Forget Formula 1 — the new kid on the block is Formula E, a racing series with stunning performance metrics and the wildest designs in the industry. Oh, and it’s saving the environment, too.
Since its debut in 2014, Formula E has wowed the world with its Formula 1-style aesthetics and its promise of motorsports with zero emissions. The series began to garner real attention in its second and third seasons, attracting a deluge of companies — including Jaguar, Audi, and Renault — searching for an opportunity to create new electric motor-generator units, software, and electronics on a global platform.
Formula E’s newest car is the gateway to a whole new era of electric racing. With a compelling business model and high-stakes thrills, Formula E is already inspiring eco-friendly innovation in both the racing and commercial auto industries — all while making electric cars cool to the masses.
A New Generation of Electric Vehicle
In its short life, Formula E has spearheaded a number of innovations in the world of motorsports. In early March, it unveiled its second generation model, a sharp-nosed alien-like machine featuring a McLaren battery and a power upgrade from 200kW to 250kW (about 335 horsepower). Dubbed the Spark SRT05E, the vehicle can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds.
While the previous model, which was used in the first four seasons of Formula E racing, offered impressive velocity and control, its relatively short battery life forced racers to switch cars halfway through races. The Spark SRT05E’s new higher-powered battery ensures that a single car can last a whole race, which usually runs for an hour. The change should only bolster Formula E’s appeal to serious motorsport fans, who want an exhibition of speed and endurance in a given race.
Formula E will begin its fifth season of competitive racing later this year. The series has rapidly gained popularity — a testament to the quality of the races, which many initially doubted. In fact, an increasing number of companies are pulling out of Formula 1 to invest in Formula E.
Among other major automakers, Audi, Nissan, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes Benz will all join seasons five and six of Formula E. Many of these companies displayed their own concepts for the second generation vehicle at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. They’re all different because they can be — the FIA, which regulates both Formula 1 and Formula E, have opened up technical regulations since the advent of the series. Teams are required to use the same carbon-fiber chassis (which houses the battery pack), but they otherwise have the freedom to develop their own gearboxes, control electronics, inverters, and electric motors.
These new flexible regulations, paired with the Spark SRT05E’s overall improvements will undoubtedly propel the series’ popularity. Companies like Jaguar are already trying to expand into the market — this year, in support of Formula E, the brand will introduce a new production battery electric car and an international street racing series to accompany it.
Automaking giants like Jaguar aren’t the only ones cashing in on electric racing — drag racers are pushing the boundaries in this field as well.
Drag racing phenomenon “Big Daddy” Don Garlits modifies racing cars in his own garage. Garlits, who spent years shattering records in gas-powered vehicles, has developed a passion for electric, which he believes will change the future of racing.
Garlits is on a mission to match and even top his best gas-powered records with an electric car. His best electric drag run saw him reach 185.6 miles in less than 7.5 seconds with a car of his own making — the Swamp Rat 37 dragster, which he claims can produce around 2000 horsepower. He holds the quarter mile electric drag racing record.
Since this run in 2014, “Big Daddy” has been on a mission to break 200 mph with electric. He may not be far off. Today, Garlits is working on a dragster to compete in Formula E that’s built with no less than 6 motors.
Powering the Future
As consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious, the popularity of electric cars continues to rise. Commercial sales of electric vehicles hit nearly 200,000 in the U.S. in 2017, a significant increase from the 158,614 tallied in 2016. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance study predicts that electric will make up 35% of all car sales by 2040.At Mattei, we enthusiastically support the ascent of electric racing and commercial electric vehicle markets. We’re proud to supply some of the top electric automakers in the industry, who rely on the durability of Mattei compressors to power their vehicles. Because we value energy efficiency, we’re committed to innovation in the auto industry. Only Mattei rotary vane compressors promise the reliability and energy savings required to drive the future of electric.