The world of electric motorsport is helping to drive green change away from the racetrack, argues Sylvain Filippi, managing director of the Envision Racing Formula E team
The UK is leading the way, as across the world, governments are setting ambitious targets to phase out traditional petrol and diesel vehicles and transition to electric vehicles (EVs), proposing that more than half of all new cars sold must be fully-electric by 2028.
It is easy to forget that despite the huge increase in EV sales, the technology which powers them is relatively new, and still evolving, and as is often the case, the world of motorsport is helping drive changes away from the racetrack.
In particular, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship Formula E is where some of the world’s greatest manufacturers race wheel-to-wheel on the streets of global cities, and it is at the vanguard of the development of wider innovative technologies, transforming vehicles that will soon be on our roads.
Formula E is an environment where high performance and sustainability powerfully co-exist. The eighth season of the world’s first ever net-zero carbon sport is well underway, and things have taken a giant sporting and technological leap forwards with the launch of the new Gen3 racing car.
The Gen3 era of Formula E will begin in 2023, boasting the most advanced electric racing car ever built – setting the benchmark for high-performance electric motorsport, with the most powerful, lightest and fastest car to date, reaching 200mph and possessing ultra-high speed charging capabilities.
Gen3 will prove that high performance, efficiency and sustainability can co-exist without compromise. The Gen3 car is the first formula car aligned to lifecycle thinking, with a clear path towards second life and end of life. Used tires and all broken carbon broken parts will be recycled into new fibers reusable for other applications. This is a pioneering process that will deliver 26 per cent sustainable materials into the composition of tires.
Additionally, batteries will be reused and recycled, with Gen3 batteries being among the most advanced, sustainable power sources ever built, consisting of sustainably-sourced minerals.
Underlining the Gen3 era is the aim to maintain the championship’s status as the first sport to be certified as net zero carbon since inception in 2014. At least 40 per cent of the energy used within a race will be produced by regenerative braking and Gen3 cars are powered by electric motors that are substantially more efficient than internal combustion engines (ICE). Gen3 motors can convert more than 90 per cent of the electrical energy into mechanical energy, compared to approximately 40 per cent in high efficiency ICE.
And all this really matters. Envision Racing was founded in 2014 with a single purpose; to inspire generations to tackle climate change and transition to e-mobility and renewable energy to accelerate the Race Against Climate Change.
We were a founding member of Formula E which, at that time, was considered an extreme idea, and today, the team is owned by Envision Group, a world-leading green technology company and net-zero technology partner, which is fully behind Envision Racing’s wider sustainability initiatives across its business that result in it being the ‘greenest team on the greenest grid’.
The championship is more than just a racing series. It is a battle for our future. Our cars, powered by pure electricity, pave the way for the cars of tomorrow. Formula E was created as a testbed for manufacturers to develop their electric technology at the highest level of competition, with the tech then filtering down into everyday electric road cars.
On the road, the number of electric car models has increased by six times since Formula E’s first season, with more than 175 now available in Europe. With the Gen3 car, and the continuing evolution of Formula E’s on-track tech, range and battery capacity will continue to move on leaps and bounds in consumer EVs.
Through our Race Against Climate Change movement we are inspiring and influencing positive change in the behavior of fans across the globe.
This is how other forms of motorsport have previously influenced and shaped petrol and diesel cars, except that with Formula E it is happening much faster. For example, in just five seasons the championship doubled the capacity of the battery, meaning that each driver could compete with just one car, instead of two per race.
This is a huge advance in battery technology, over such a short period of time, and is delivering technology that can be applied directly into road car uses, with companies like Envision AESC creating batteries for cars across the world.
Unlike many other forms of motorsport, Formula E cars all use the same battery, chassis and body work. This is to allow the increased advancement of the performance of the car in other areas that will impact electric vehicles in the future. The changes made can range from weight reduction to energy management. Each team spends hundreds of hours ensuring that their cars run as efficiently as possible.
The introduction of regenerative braking is very exciting, and the next technology step in Formula E will be the rate of charging. The development of a cutting-edge charging solution would pave the way for the increased uptake of electric vehicles by consumers as the myths regarding charging and range anxiety are dispelled.
Formula E is about sustainable transport and e-mobility, but it is also about excitement, and the thrill of competitive, high-speed motor racing. With cars racing at up to 280km/h battling for the win, fans are not only watching us on the track, they are also seeing the future of all our transport systems.
The Gen3 technology was launched at Monaco on 28 April.
Sylvain Filippi is managing director and CTO at the Envision Racing Formula E team.