This post will explore how Formula E cars have developed over the years, and it will underline why the Gen3 model debuting in season 9 is the future.
Formula E is the world’s first electric motorsport, and after a successful 6 seasons following its inaugural 2014-15 series, Formula E became an official FIA championship in 2020. The sport is built around its pledge to be the most eco-friendly motorsport and they have successfully combined the excitement of a motorsport race with protection of our planet. This has been done through initiatives such as recyclable car parts, biofuels being used when transporting goods, and of course the use of electricity to power the engines rather than harmful fossil fuels. It is this final point that makes Formula E so amazing. Formula E cars will be upgraded to a new Gen3 model in season 9, which will see cars reach a top speed of 200 mph. This, as well as improvements to other Formula E car specs such as powertrains, braking, and efficiency of the engines will make races more exciting than ever before.
Formula E: Shaping the Future
Seeing as Formula E is a new motorsport, a lot of changes have taken place and the cars have been subject to the most significant of these changes. Formula E Gen1 lasted the first 4 seasons and looking back now, this model was pretty basic. This was put down to the fact that electric race cars were brand new and needed to be understood better by the teams and their drivers.
Gen1’s simplicity made for a good introduction to electric racing for all involved. However, it didn’t take long for car development to begin as in season 2 restrictions on how much cars could be adapted were loosened. Manufacturers were allowed to design their own motors and adapt other car specs such as the gearbox. However, the most significant change was an increase in power-making for more competitive and exciting races. The nature of Formula E allows a lot of room for innovation as new technology is increasing the potential improvements to the car batteries. This is demonstrated by a 50% increase in efficiency of the cars in season 3 as a result of upgrades to the batteries.
Whilst Gen1 was already one of a kind, the development of Formula E cars did not slow down, and Formula E Gen2 saw the sport make remarkable progress. Gen2 brought a lot of changes, most notably to the car batteries. Gen2 saw cars able to run a whole race on one charge, meaning they no longer needed pitstops. This not only highlighted amazing technological improvements, but it also created an interesting dynamic in races and established another significant difference between Formula E and Formula 1. Evolution of the car batteries also made cars much more powerful as the engines received a 25% boost in their max power. Further developments were also made to other cars specs such as the braking system, height, and width of the car.
From Gen2 to Gen3
Attack Mode was also added in the Gen2 era, creating a new challenge for drivers, and enabling another increase in power from 225kw to 235kw. Clearly Gen2 represented a big step up for Formula E as the cars became ‘more like race cars’ as best put by 2016/17 champion Lucas di Grassi.
Evolution is in Formula E’s DNA and officials announced that Formula E Gen3 would debut in season 9. Formula E cars will reach new heights with this jump, as Gen3 is described as ‘the future of motor racing’. It combines sustainability, efficiency, and performance to create some of the most amazing vehicles ever seen. Whilst Gen2 saw the cars change to become like race cars, Gen3 will see the cars specialised for street racing.
Gen3 cars will be able to reach a top speed of 200 mph as a result of a reduction of the cars’ weight by 60kg and improvements to the battery. The addition of a front powertrain, to complement the rear powertrain will help increase the regenerative capacity. It is estimated that 40% of the energy used in a race will come from regenerated energy- a huge increase from the 25% figure in Gen2. This an impressive development, as Formula E cars will be the first ever formula cars with both rear and front powertrains.
The increased regenerative capacity of cars also keeps Formula E in line with their pledge to be the most sustainable motorsport, as it will ensure less energy is used in races. Moreover, many measures have been taken to help in Formula E’s net zero carbon commitment. These include the ‘post life potential’ of the batteries, tyres being recycled after every race and the completely recyclable bodywork of the cars. The bodywork will be made up of recycled carbon fibre parts from Gen2 cars and other sustainable materials like linen.
An opportunity for business and viewership
The evolution of Formula E cars in such a short space of time has helped the sport grow rapidly and grabbed the attention of many racing fans. In turn, this has made FE an interesting opportunity for companies seeking partnerships. This is in part due to Formula E showcasing such remarkable technology and innovation to help drive this evolution, as companies look to align with exciting projects geared for the future. Excitingly, further developments to Gen3 cars will be delivered as software updates, meaning that this evolution will not be slowing down anytime soon.
Gen1 was viewed as the springboard for Formula E to get off the ground and introduce the world to electric motor racing- the cars’ simplicity highlighted this. Gen2 saw the sport grow into its own as cars became more familiar for racing fans. Gen3 will help make Formula E more unique and allow for their mark to be made on motorsport, as the sport and its cars are ready for the future. With Formula E Gen3 nearing its January 2023 debut, now is the time to lock in to the sport and see what the hype is about.