The electric race cars are coming, and sooner than I had hoped. On Monday, the Federation Internatonale de l’Automobile announced that the all-electric racing series known as Formula E would have its opening season less than two years from now in 2014. The series will follow a setup similar to Formula 1, which leaves just one question.
What will the cars look like?
The Quiet Race Car Of The Future
Electric racing has enormous potential, as instant torque, low noise, and crazy acceleration are all dreams come true for racing drivers. Major automakers are already toying with different types of electric race cars, including Toyota, Nissan, and Audi, but none of these companies have announced their intentions to race in the opening season of Formula E. Paul Drayson, whose own electric race car will tackle the American Le Mans Series next year, is also said to be heavily involved with the project, putting his money where his mouth said.
That said, I imagine some of them will, especially Nissan and Toyota, who have been hard at work on electric race cars. All interested parties are being invited to design and enter electric race cars of their own design, but some privateer teams may not have the budget for that. Other teams, like ye olde school racing outfit Bluebird, have already unveiled their Formula E race cars though, so it is all up in the air.
That leaves teams with the option of buying a pre-built race car from Formulec, These cars will boast a top speed of 150 mph and will take just 3 seconds to reach 60 mph. Unfortunately, the batteries will only last about 15-20 minutes at full throttle, while the races are slated to go for a full hour.
Working Out The Details
That will mean at least one car or battery change per race, and maybe two. The details of how this will work haven’t been released yet. But the first race is slated to take place in Rio de Janeiro, which has volunteered to host the opening race. This will hopefully followed by a multitude of other international locales, including Germany’s Brandenberg gate.
Another benefit of electric racing; the low noise means less complaining from non-racing fans. A number of race tracks in America have shut down in recent years as housing developments crop up where none were before, forcing these tracks to limit their racing schedules.
But before that happens, they might want to figure out that whole battery thing. Personally, I think battery swaps are the way to go with electric racing. It isn’t like todays race cars don’t have to refuel at some point, and it will add some more depth to pit stops.
Imagine it like this; brakes glowing hot, the whisper-quiet race car pulls into the pits for the last battery swap of the race. Every second counts, and before the car has come to a complete stop, a professional pit crew is all over it like white on rice. They jack the EV up, slide a sled underneath, hit a quick release, yank it out, shove a new battery pack in, and viola!
The electric Formula E race car shoots off down pit lane with a fresh battery pack and four new tires, all in less than ten seconds. It’s a grown up version of the RC cars we used to play with as kids. What’s not to love?
Source: Chicago Tribune