Formula E: Moving Electric Car Technology From the Racetrack to Your Driveway

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Qatar Airways New York City E-Prix; FIA Formula E Championship; Brooklyn, New York; July 14, 2018; Photo: Tyler Tate/T Squared Action Sports

The typical car race is loud and dirty. It’s a part of the deal when you’re driving cars at high speeds around a track and it’s a part of the fun. The stands are full of fans wearing earphones to block out the sound, but spend just a few minutes at a typical race, let’s say NASCAR, and you’ll find nothing fully mutes the rumble of those engines. Unless you’re talking about the all-electric Formula E racing series, which is far from the average car race.

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Instead of the rumble of engines and the smell of exhaust fumes, there’s a high-pitched whine as the cars speed around the track. Your first thought upon hearing a Formula E car is not race car, but space ship. They sound like some bit of futuristic technology out of the latest blockbuster rather than race cars that are very much real.

This is the fourth season for Formula E and the last before the second generation of cars takes to the track. As advanced as this season’s cars are, next season will take all the tech up a notch. This is important not just for the sport, but for the future of production electric cars since Formula E cars are at the forefront of electric car development. They serve as a testing ground for the technologies that will make their way into production cars.

Qatar Airways New York City E-Prix; FIA Formula E Championship; Brooklyn, New York; July 14, 2018; Photo: Tyler Tate/T Squared Action Sports

Interactive booths from automakers like Jaguar showcase both production and racing technology. Right alongside the race car that will be driven by Katherine Legge in next year’s Jaguar I-Pace e-Trophy series was the production I-Pace. It highlights how important Formula E is to electric vehicle development.

It wasn’t that long ago when hybrids were considered new and unusual. Now they’re commonplace. Electric cars, too, are slowly moving from novel to normal as their acceptance and the infrastructure to support them grows. Formula E is a part of the process.

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While Formula E might not be the kind of race your neighbors are all talking about today, that’s going to change. As interest and acceptance of electric cars grows, Formula E provides a glimpse of the advanced electric car technology that will one day be in the cars parked in our driveways.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin

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