DATA DEPENDENT: Formula E race cars offer glimpse into the automotive future.


We’ve been wanting to feature Formula E here in Scientific Inquirer for a long time. The race offers a peek into what the future holds for transportation. (Hint: It has nothing to do with fossil fuels.) This really shouldn’t come as a surprise since Formula E’s sister competition, Formula 1, has long been a harbinger of technology that trickles down to the consumer automobile market. For example, the energy harvesting technology that have increased the sustainability of hybrid and electronic cars first saw daylight as the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS). Another recent example are the steering wheel paddles used to shift gears in many manual drive cars. Formula E offers the same possibilities, so it’s definitely a series worth paying attention to.

That said, if you’re going to watch, you’ll get so much more out of it with a little bit of info going in. That’s why we’ve compiled this brief Formula E explainer. It’s mostly focused on the car itself and not the drivers at this point.

Even though a brand new, updated Formula E car was introduced a couple of months ago in Monaco, the best starting point is the current car doing laps. It’s a good bridge from the glorified Priuses that were fielded in the first season to the really souped up and futuristic Gen 3 car that teams will be fielding next season.

So as the season winds down to the last few races let’s pay our respects to the cars that came before, particularly the Gen 2 car which has transformed Formula E and provided some scintillating wheel-to-wheel racing.

Here’s how the first gen and second gen cars stack up by the numbers.

SpecificationsGen2vs Gen1
Length5160mm+160mm
Width1770mm-10mm
Height1050mmUnchanged
Front track1553mm+25mm
Rear track1505mm+13mm
Ride height75mm (max)Unchanged
Wheelbase3100mmUnchanged
Minimum weight (inc. driver)903kg (battery 385kg)+20kg (battery +65kg)
Maximum power250kW, equivalent to 335bhp+50kW, +67bhp
Race Mode (maximum power available)220Kw, equivalent to 297bhp+40kW, +57bhp
Maximum power regeneration250kW+100kW
Maximum speed280km/h (174mph)+55km/h (+34mph)
0-100km/h (0-62mph)2.8s-0.2s
SOURCE: https://www.fiaformulae.com/en/discover/cars-and-technology

More so than any other racing series, Formula E is about managing energy since battery power still hasn’t caught up with fuel and is still a less understood commodity racing wise. There’s nothing more depressing than seeing a car run out of batteries (or writing about it for that matter).

And like we were saying… The technology you see in racing cars eventually trickles down to the consumer.

IMAGE CREDIT: Sam Bloxham.


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