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How Formula E Will Work


Formula E Race Cars
Formula E cars will be powered entirely by electricity stored in lithium ion batteries. No hybrids, no flywheels or kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) either.
Formula E cars will be powered entirely by electricity stored in lithium ion batteries. No hybrids, no flywheels or kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) either.
Courtesy of Formula E

We need to start with just a teensy bit of history to bring everyone up to speed: In 2008, French designer Frederic Vasseur and his company Formulec unveiled the first electric Formula-style race car. Formula E Holdings then bought the technology from Formulec, and Vasseur founded Spark Racing Technology (SRT), a consortium charged with designing the race cars for the series.

The group includes none other than the legendary racecar builders from McLaren. You may know them for their Formula One Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, or you may know the names of some of the many drivers to grace McLaren race seats over the years, like Jensen Button, Lewis Hamilton, Juan Pablo Montoya or even racing legend Ayrton Senna.

FEH is hoping the partnership will work the same magic for electric Formula cars -- which, by the way, will be powered entirely by electricity stored in lithium ion batteries. No hybrids here, no flywheels or kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) either. Here's a breakdown of the stats:

  • 124 miles per hour (199.6 kilometers per hour) maximum speed
  • 0 to 100 miles per hour (0 to 160.9 kilometers per hour) in 3 seconds
  • 241-horsepower
  • 1,720 pounds (780.2 kilograms)

The 90-minute charge required for 25 minutes of all-out racing might be a hard sell, but all the other numbers seem quick. And don't forget that electric cars have all their torque available immediately, as soon as the driver hits the accelerator, making race starts super-fast.

FEH has already purchased 42 of these SRT cars to make sure that there's a field of race cars (one worth watching) when the switch is flipped on the series in 2014. That's 4 cars for each of the 10 teams, plus 1 car to do the FIA-required crash tests and 1 car for developmental testing. Should any of the teams get a Formula E car of their own ready by race day, the extra SRT cars will be used as series promotional cars.


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