Formula E Unveils In Las Vegas And No Tesla In Sight!
There was a hint of speed to come at the opening of this year’s Consumer Electronics Fair in Las Vegas when the FIA sanctioned Formula E Championship Series unveiled its first all-electric race car to the world. A very mixed crowd of racing fans, tech geeks and environmentalists jockeyed for a glimpse of the Spark-Renault SRT-01E.
The car was publicly demonstrated outside of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino and then along the famed Las Vegas Boulevard by Brazilian Formula One driver, Lucas di Grassi, who pushed the car through a number of sharp turns, tight spins, blistering acceleration and sudden stops designed to show the car as a real racing thoroughbred. Whilst the car may look every bit a racer, it sounds nothing like its combustion cousins. In fact, many members of the press commented that the soundtrack could be best described as underwhelming.
Speaking after the demonstration and in spite of the sound issue, di Grassi told reporters, “You can feel it’s something completely different from everything else. The torque is much more precise, so you have to be very, very precise on applying throttle.” The cars will not have gears so there will be no shifting for the drivers while racing Formula E cars. However, the extremely sensitive throttle response is expected to pose a serious challenge.
The CEO of Formula E, Alejandro Agag, said “Formula E is on a mission to have more electric cars on the streets all around the world. People love motorsports but now they also care about the environment, so together it is a great combination.”
Apart from being environmentally friendly, the car can travel at speeds of up to 240kph and hit 100kph in a little over 3 seconds. The first season is scheduled to start in Beijing on 13 September this year and end in London, in June of 2015, with stops in Malaysia, Brazil, USA and Germany amongst others. Famous names such as Hollywood’s Leonardo di Caprio, racing world’s Mario Andretti and the business world’s Richard Branson have all committed to the first season (see previous report).
Battery life will likely be the primary concern with the 440 pound packs used by Formula E cars estimated to last just about 20 to 25 minutes. With a mid-race recharge not possible, the drivers will have to pit and change cars when power is low. Like Formula One, drivers will be able to use a boost to assist with passing, but there’s also a new trick – fans who vote online during races will be able to directly speed up cars as well.
So far the only manufacture that seems to be confirmed for the first season is the Spark-Renault creation, but some 3 or 4 alternatives will be available for the second season. Although at present there is no indication if America’s favorite EV manufacturer, Tesla, will come to the party, many of us would like to see Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, to have a go.