Electric motorsport is quickly becoming as well-known as its fuel-powered equivalent, and that is just a simple fact. Formula E is picking up more fans and followers each day, and the fact that it has now been designated a World Championship as of this season demonstrates how important it is now being seen by many at the top.
The purpose of this article is to look at some recent news that has emerged from the automotive world, and bring in some ideas that this now raises. Two days ago, Mercedes-Benz announced their new electric SUV, the EQA, which will go on sale in Europe this year. This car joins the EQC as the electric vehicles in the German brand’s options list, and they have plans to produce six different EQ vehicles, which will all be on the market by 2022.
However, they are not the only brand to release a new electric vehicle in the last few days. NIO have recently introduced their new car, and their first saloon, named the ET7, which is set to go on the Chinese market in 2022. They are also introducing a solid-state battery pack with it, which will see the ET7 have a maximum range of 621 miles. BMW, Audi, Porsche, Nissan, Jaguar and DS have all also been dabbling in the market, introducing saloons, SUVs, GTs and more varieties of car in electric form.
But what is the point we are trying to make? Well, if you had no interest in the last two paragraphs, then the simple point to take is that all of these manufacturers and brands are all involved in Formula E, and participate in the sport, either as a constructor or a team partner. Therefore, in a world where we are seeing increased focus on electric power, FE brands are leading the way in bringing the technology to us, in the form of their road cars.
In the modern world, we see electric cars all over the place; the Jaguar I-PACE is a common sight, as are BMW i3 and i8 cars, not to mention the number of Tesla vehicles on the roads as well. Therefore, electricity is definitely growing in popularity, and FE is providing a way for manufacturers to learn about it, harness it, and turn it into the vehicles that we have seen them produce already.
The next question is whether we as a population can afford for everyone to go electric? The simple answer to that is, at the moment, no, because having that many electric vehicles would require an enormous increase in the network of charging points, and we would also need to speed up the time it takes for an electric vehicle to recharge completely. Will the success and popularity of electric motorsport encourage more people to buy electric vehicles instead of fuel-powered ones? Maybe, but, again, not yet. This will come in the future, but only when we get more charging points. At the moment, though, petrol and diesel vehicles will always be more heavily favoured, because owners know they can refuel when they want to, and that is the challenge awaiting those who want to phase them out; how to bring in a bigger charging network that will change people’s minds on this.
You might still be wondering what the point of this article is. In answer to that, it is to analyse the impact that Formula E is having on the modern world, not necessarily from the point of view of the motorsport, but from the point of view of the technology, and what it is teaching major brands. BMW in particular introduced an electric version of their X3 SUV last year, called the iX3, and they say that their electric vehicles are being produced with what they have learnt from their time in Formula E. Therefore, the better their performances in the sport, the better their road cars.
Of course, FE deals with cars, but we have seen other forms of electric motorsport being introduced to us over the last few months. Extreme E, which sees electric vehicles racing in different terrains around the world, chosen because they are being severely affected by climate change and aiming to raise awareness of the problems there, will be coming to us later this year. E1 racing, which sees single-seater boats being raced on watery courses around the world, has been launched, but still remains in the planning phases at the time of writing.
However, whilst Extreme E will link in with electric vehicle technology, E1 is something we will now briefly look at, because it could lead to new electric technology in the types of boats that people own. We’ve all seen images of places like Monaco, Saint-Tropez and Cannes, as well as other yachting and boating hotspots, and the number of boats and types of boats moored up there. However, if E1 takes off as hoped, then will we see electric technology be introduced into yachts and boats in those areas? This is an interesting idea, but we are a long way from this being developed and brought in. However, some major brands, such as Princess, Sunseeker, Fairline, Nordhavn and others, could potentially look at it in the future, aiming to power their boats with a hybrid engine, if not completely renewable energy, at some point in the future. Our oceans are under threat, and having electric-powered boats could be a way of helping them. E1 could be a leading light in this, as Formula E has partly been for the development of electric cars.
In conclusion, this article has looked at Formula E and how it has influenced the implementation of electric car technology, and we have seen how many of the brands involved in the sport have also brought out electric vehicles into their range. That in itself shows that FE has played a big part in making more people take notice of electricity as a form of fuel. The article has also pointed out that there are still challenges that need to be overcome before electricity can take over completely, and petrol and diesel can be phased out. The final thing we looked at is whether the same thing could happen in the marine world, with E1 racing being brought to our attention as a concept last year. However, this is not something we will see coming in in the next few years, but could be something for the future.