Racing, in general, has largely ignored the electric vehicle. You will, on occasion, see something about a really fast drag car that is all electric. And there is the e-bike race at Isle Of Man. For most of your big racing organizations though, it’s less than an afterthought. The one place that has at least dabbled in EV technology is F1. With the KERS systems, they are doing vast amounts of research that is actually paying dividends. A look at the latest supercars from Ferrari, Porsche, and McLaren is testament to that.
That idea is now being expanded into a full fledged racing series, with many of the big F1 players on board. It’s called Formula E, and it has some pretty grand plans. The inaugural season will start in the fall of 2014 with ten teams using the car you see above, the Spark-Renault SRT-01E. Renault will be in charge of integrating everything, with McLaren supplying the powertrain and electronics and Williams supplying the batteries.
Plans for the initial season call for each team to have two drivers and four cars. The extra cars are not there for replacement in the event of a crash though. Instead, each race will require two mandatory pit-stops where the drivers will switch cars, the electric equivalent of a fuel stop. Also interesting is that the cars will not have full power (200kw / 270bhp). That will be available in practice and qualifying, but for the race the cars will be limited to power saving mode (133kw / 180bhp), with full power available as a push-to-pass option for a limited number of uses.
Races will be contested all around the globe, run on street tracks in Los Angeles, Miami, London, Berlin, Monte Carlo, Beijing, Hong Kong, Putra Jaya, Punta Del Este, and Buenos Aires. Also interesting, all races will be run on the same all-weather Michelin tires. The lack of slicks should make for some exciting racing.
Initially all of the cars will be essentially the same, with the long term goal being that the various manufacturer teams will innovate and progress the technology. All of this, or course, while raising awareness of the electric car as a viable option in real-world situations. It remains to be seen how successful any of this will be, but Formula E is certainly off to an interesting start.
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