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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Tiepolo

Lighter & Faster Cars: Formula E's Evolution and Path Into The Electric Vehicles Development

Formula E was developed to promote investment in electric technology and further drive electric mobility growth. The series has produced three generations of electric cars, with automakers managing to reduce the current car's weight by 60 kg and increase its top speed by 40 km/h.

A third-generation Formula E car

"Both technologically and environmentally, Gen3 sets new standards in the sport. The FIA and Formula E development teams have done a superb job," said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the International Automobile Federation, during the 2022 Monaco E-Prix.

One of the main changes of the new generation car is the braking system, which is no longer hydraulic and, according to the FIA (International Automobile Federation), will be responsible for 40% of the energy used in races.

"When you step on the brake, the rear electric motor works as if it were an ABS. One hundred percent of the rear braking comes from the electric motor," explains the Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi for Folha de São Paulo. "It is a novelty that could save more than 100 kg of weight and gain from 50 km to 100 km of autonomy in a common street car," adds the driver.

Lucas di Grassi, who is a Formula E driver, smiling and holding a silver trophy

Lucas di Grassi after winning the Mexico E-Prix in 2019. Getty Images

In general, the so-called Gen3 has an increase of 100 kW compared to the previous generation, which had 250 kW of maximum power. This growth represents an increase of 135 horsepower and 40 km/h of average speed. However, a problem faced by the drivers during the pre-season was the engine's reliability, a challenge that needs to be worked on and adapted. The engine's main change is that it is created from sustainable minerals, which makes it possible to completely recycle components.

Sustainability is at the heart of Formula E's mission, and every aspect of the Gen3 production has been redesigned with sustainable racing as the goal. An innovation in this regard is the recycled carbon fiber from old cars chassis, a novelty never implemented before. As a result, the estimate is a reduction of at least 10% in the carbon footprint during the construction of the single-seated racecars.

A Hankook tire used on a Formula E car

Formula E tires are made by South Korean company Hankook. Source: Hankook

Furthermore, the new season's tires are made from natural rubbers and recycled fibers and are entirely recycled after the stages. According to the event's organization, Formula E is the world's first 100% carbon-neutral sport. Still, concerns go beyond the track, from the production of cars to even the environmental footprint and sustainability of the race events themselves, including types of consumables and packaging made available to fans.

Compared to Formula 1, the Formula E car doesn't reach such high speeds but goes from 0 to 200 km/h in less time. This shows that even if vehicles are not entirely electric in the future, they are constantly evolving and can be a significant shift for the sustainable scenario.

Many Formula E cars on a track at the Jakarta E-Prix

Formula E cars at the 2023 Jakarta E-Prix. Formula E

Formula E is the fastest-growing motorsport series in recent years and has become a basis for developing technologies, which will be taken to the streets after testing. However, whether the series will eventually replace Formula 1 or whether Formula 1 will become electric remains a question for some. Notably, Formula 1 directors have already made statements in the series' Net Zero Carbon by 2030 project, published in 2019, that migrating to other areas of sustainable development is a goal, but not making the series completely electric. For now, Formula E remains a hub for innovation with powerful lessons for the street and other motorsport series.


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