As soon as the FIA ABB Formula E Championship was given the green light, the series knew it would have to be at the forefront of technology both in general and in their race cars. It was ‘driving the future’ as the series tagline stated and although the current race cars look fun, fast and futuristic, they are still very much a generic single-seater with a battery added in at a later date. However a new generation of Formula E car is on its way and it is here to change the game.
The slick, innovative and modern design of the second generation Formula E car, known as the ‘Gen2’, was finally revealed to the world at the end of January this year through a series of digital images and a video. The launch was a huge success with many praising the slick and Batmobile-esque design, however it was confirmed the official launch of the car would be held on Tuesday 6th March at the Geneva International Motor Show.
Despite having to wait on more key statistical information about the new Gen2 car, there is plenty that can be learnt from these digital images and previous news stories about the car that will come into effect from next season.
Firstly, the battery will be better. Much better. Although the technology currently used in the Formula E cars is mightily impressive for what it is used for, drivers are still required to make an inevitable ‘car-swap’ pit stop around the middle of the 45 minute races as their cars have simply run out of energy. From season five, this part of an ePrix will be abolished with the introduction of a battery that produces double the energy with a similar weight and volume to the current model. This is why, for many, the battery is actually the biggest area of development and the most important. The battery, developed by McLaren Applied Technology will see the top power output increase to 250 Kw/h (335bhp) and an additional 50 Kw/h available to drivers during qualifying sessions.
As well as interior modifications, the exterior of the Gen2 is dramatically different. The cutting-edge design has seen features such as a big rear diffuser added and the removal of a rear wing. The wheels of the race car have also been covered as well as the introduction of the notorious halo. Each have been done for specific reasons, to make the car as visionary and aerodynamic as possible as well as following FIA guidelines.
The disappearance of a rear wing and incorporation of the dramatic diffuser will be great for the downforce of the Gen2, whilst also reducing the drag. As you would expect, drag isn’t something that is wished for when designing an electric vehicle so a design that can reduce that is great for the championship. The diffuser will also generate a lot of downforce from the underside of the car.
Finally, the famous halo system. It was known that from 2018/19 season the FIA’s latest safety feature would be implemented into all single-seater championships whether people wanted it or not, so designing a new car around that would always prove a challenge. Although early designs of the Gen2 showed more of a canopy rather than a halo, the halo was chosen and has been modified for the Gen2 to give it a rather interesting and futuristic characteristic. LED lights have been added around the top of the halo, with many suggestions being put forwards for their use. Displaying a drivers battery percentage for fans, notifying fans of yellow or red flags or even a digital feature if Formula E venture into night races have all been well-received ideas online.
Overall the car looks great. It is efficient, futuristic and exciting in its design, with this modern look likely to attract the next generation of motorsport fans. With more information to be confirmed on Tuesday, I for one can’t wait to welcome the next generation of motor racing cars.