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Formula E Racing

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I didn't even know there was such a thing as Formula E electric car racing. I have no interest in auto racing, but what a great idea to promote EVs!
Come Elon, you got the bucks. Get a car in the race.... Sponsor one... build one. I'd love to go cheer on team Tesla!

Yeah, I didn't really get that part either. I think they are still exploring and refining new concepts to make this formula series more unique and attractive to the younger generations.

Here is a video from the first ever track test of the new car from earlier today:

What do you think about the sound of the motor?

EEEEEE..eeeeee..EEEEEEEEEEE! Hard on the driver! ;p LOL

At the end the driver talks about getting four times more torque in final product. If that's true then gearbox functionality now is rather moot. You need to tweak pretty much every mechanical part to accommodate that much more power (unless current parts have absolute insane tolerances).

Here is a company that understands the engineering value of participating in motorsports.

Mr S P Shukla, Chairman, Mahindra Racing and President of Group Strategy said: “We are very excited about our new adventure with Formula E. Mahindra Racing is relatively young, but we have seen how racing delivers benefits to our organisation, not only from the brand perspective, but equally in terms of TECHNOLOGY advances and motivation. This is an excellent addition to our racing portfolio and we are looking forward to a successful future in Formula E.”

Pretty standard boilerplate statement. What would you expect a "President of Racing and Group Strategy" to say?

How about this statement from Dr. Pawan Goenka, Executive Director and President of the Automotive sector at Mahindra: “As pioneers of electric mobility in India, we are extremely thrilled to extend EV technology to the exhilarating world of the Formula E championship. This will not only help us develop next generation EV technologies, but will also catapult our product development capabilities to the next orbit.”

Or this other one from Mr Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra Group. “With advanced operations and expertise in electronics, IT, automotive technologies and manufacturing, we are already seeing the fusion of this technology into our electric vehicle operations. Racing will further accelerate that trend while Formula E is set to raise awareness globally about the benefits of electric vehicles.”

Personally, I find it very encouraging that various automotive markets are incorporating EV technology into the mainstream of automotive venues, be it commuter, racing, or even the "monster truck" forum:‎

Nothing like it, just more of it!!

The last remaining spot left on the Formula E grid was taken by another electric vehicle manufacturer, Venturi from Monaco. Kind of disappointing to see that even much smaller EV manufacturers than Tesla Motors see the value to develop their products through racing. ("From season two, the team plans to become a constructor, building its own Formula E car using a powertrain based on its 3,000hp Venturi VBB-3 electric streamliner that aims to set a new World Record of 700kph on the Bonneville Salt Flats by 2015").

I hope the lack of interest by TM in this series won't take away momentum in the European and Asian markets in the future, specially once the series gets started and the other Electric Vehicle manufacturers stealthe spotlight from Tesla Motors within the general public and racng fans in those markets.

Hopefully TM will change its mind about getting involved and will join another team already on the grid; a joint venture with Virgin doesn't sound to far fetched...


If I may interject, I submit for your consideration the view that the point that you are missing is that Tesla Motors has ALREADY proven the developmental acumen of its technology in the forms of the Roadster, Model S, and soon to be Model X platforms, not to mention by simply demonstrating the consumer desirable market viability of a long belittled and even discouraged technology by introducing it into mainstream commuter reality in a number of VERY appealing commuter packages, debunking all of the naysayers in the process, so what more need is there to "develop" or 'prove' anything to anyone? Developmental or otherwise?

If anything, it is the other potential contenders that need consume themselves with catching up as Tesla is already well ahead of the crowd.

Agree, but remember the innovator's dilemma. Tesla is an extremely young company and it can't fall asleep on its laurels. Look at what is happening to Toyota right now on the hybrid front.

Now take a look at Porsche, if there is an area where they have always invested is in Motorsports, it keeps them in the forefront of technological innovation. Just during the last two years they have invested heavily as well as assigned a huge budget for next year to their Le Mans program where they will be competing against Toyota and Audi, and if you listen to Porsche's entire board of directors, they all supported it whole hardheartedly. What has Porsche gotten out of it so far? Well, for starters, a brand new hybrid engine design that will probably transfer to their road cars in the very near future, and that is even before they've done any racing. That is the intrinsic value of motorsports; it pushes innovation and helps create new technologies.

BTW Formula E doesn't even come close to the Le Mans series LMP1 category in terms of the investment necessary to enter in it, let alone be competitive, and that is because Formula E was purposely designed to be an inexpensive series conducive to R&D on new EV tech (at least for now and, as I mentioned before, only if they don't let aerodynamics take over the teams budget in the future).

I would also like to point out that if Tesla wants to have the same margins that Porsche has, it should take a leaf out of Porsche's book. The reason why people pay what they pay for a Porsche is not only because they are buying an amazing piece of engineering, but because of the racing heritage that comes with it, same thing with Ferrari. There are way too many people who are passionate about racing and want to have a part of it somehow, to ignore them and not cater to that huge market, specially in the high end car segment is foolish at best.

Motorsports are the single most popular sport as a whole in the entire world (even more than soccer and despite the fact that very few people even get to actually practice it). Just F1 by itself has more worldwide viewers in a season than all of the American sports leagues combined (excluding NASCAR -which is has the biggest audience over all other sports in the U.S.A. and 2nd in revenue after the NFL).

Tesla doesn't have to prove itself with the early adopters and people who believe in EVs and know what electric vehicles are all about, it has to prove itself to all of those people who don't know much about Electric Vehicles or don't trust the technology enough yet and who happen to be 95% of the population (electric vehicles are far away from becoming mainstream). Even in America, there are people who have never heard of Tesla, imagine the rest of the world?


So... traditional racing has always been monetized through sponsorships, most of which are parts suppliers, manufacturers, petrol companies, motor oil companies, and other various fluids that get put in ICE cars on a tri-monthly basis just to keep them running. I would think Formula-E might suffer from lack of sponsorship opportunities.

(Yes, this post was written tongue-in-cheek)

Ha, indeed. But now you can substitute those sponsors for new suppliers specialized in electronics and batteries like Qualcomm, Panasonic, Samsung, LG or even Black and Decker :P

Seriously though, I think that the value of the publicity generated, prestige for participaing in racing, on top of the R&D that can be done in the series would be enough to offset the actual costs of running in the series, and this even before considering sponsor revenue.

I think this is a good series in terms of return on investment, particularly right now as a new series when the cost to enter is so low (considering its a global FIA sanctioned event).


"Porsche", huh?

Any more questions?

IMHO (as I have alluded to before) Tesla is more focused on bringing EV technology to the mass market/public at large in a market-wide, AFFORDABLY aesthetically and performance appealing platform and not just specialized niches, so until other marques have actually entered the COMPLETELY EV genre, there really is no comparison/competition, let alone the necessity to reallocate funds for a "racing" development department.

@Haeze and frmercado

"IF" sponsors emerge that show an interest in investing in EV development/experimentation/research, etc., perhaps THEN would be the best time to pursue such interests?

Also, it is not my intention to be perceived as taking anything away from the racing/motorsports industry as I, myself, am a racing enthusiast and even participant on occasion, I'm just not seeing an actual 'need' for Tesla's participation at this time.

As it is now Tesla is without any competition...ANY!

An interesting article on the development of the battery technology to be used in Formula-e.

Be interesting to see some cell design and battery architecture details for the Williams.

I suspect TM is already doing "most of the above", but without the racetrack constraints Formula E imposes.

Asked EM about TM participating in rallies. His response:

"Well, I do think that’s an awesome race. We have no plan to be involved in any racing activity in the at least short to medium term. I mean really our focus is on developing new products and increasing production. And all of the kind of racing stuff is about demand generation. And so we start hitting demand constraints instead of production constraints that make sense for us to focus on production. Thank you."

Good question, great answer. Pretty much what I thought all along. For most manufacturers, racing is far more about advertising than it is about the technology. It certainly has helped certain companies, Honda and Toyota in particular, to create technologies they have eventually used in some form on their mass market vehicles. It's a good way to make sure your engineering teams know how to stay on their feet and think fast in critical situations, so they do not become complacent and are always striving to improve. But Tesla Motors'in the trenches' with 'their feet to the fire'. It wouldn't do them any good to add racing programs to their long list of duties, as it would surely burn them out irreversibly.

Sensible letter. Almost English. Must have been written by a Chinese Engineer!

Hmmm... That should have read:

But Tesla Motors already has all their engineers 'in the trenches' with 'their feet to the fire'. It wouldn't do them any good to add racing programs to their long list of duties, as it would surely burn them out irreversibly.

Pioneering electric car company Rimac Automobili has announced that it is to supply the new all-electric FIA Formula E Championship with one of its exclusive Concept_One super cars.

Looks like Tesla, arguably the most important electric vehicle manufacturer in the world, is one of the few electric car manufacturers that has not gotten involved in this series in any way so far. Like I said before, I think this is a missed opportunity.

Motorsports offer a platform that would give exposure to electric vehicle technology to a segment of the global population that most likely wouldn't have even thought about electric cars as a viable option to ICE vehicles, let alone as racing machines.

So far these are the electric car manufacturers that in some way or another are contributing to the series:

Drayson Racing

Mclaren, Williams and Audi are indirectly involved too, although they are not fully EV manufacturers.

If Rimac, who can't even begin to compare in size and resources to TM was able to get involved by providing a car I'm sure that Tesla Motors can figure out a way to contribute something to this series and the nascent electric racing world.

Racing prowess is more important to those who are in the market to buy a one million Galactic Union Credit vehicle than those who might instead consider a one hundred thousand or thirty five thousand dollar vehicle.

On the other hand, there are some people who don't have any idea that a Toyota branded NASCAR has nothing to do with a Camry, and the rest don't care.

How many of those other EV companies sell every car they make, without advertising?

@ Brian Again, its not about advertising, its about advancing EV technology. The more companies in the race the more innovation in EV tech. This is the most cost effective R&D investment that you could make.

Did you take a look at the article I posted about the Williams developed battery pack? (

They developed it in under six months! A battery that weights under 200kgs has more than 28kw/h energy density and also has an encasing that is pretty much fire resistant: "we could have a battery fire yet the temperature seen by the fuel cell was less than 70 degrees"

It is also liquid cooled and can withstand repeated fast charging without any issues.

They did this in 6 months!

This quote pretty much sums up what I think racing brings to the table when it comes to developing new technologies through competition:

“There are very few organisations in the world that could have done what we did in effectively six months,” says Doug Campling, the technical lead for Williams Advanced Engineering’s motorsport programmes. “When you think about who else could have done it, it’s a very short list. There have been a lot of late nights! It’s hard to imagine another company that doesn’t have a RACING HISTORY that would have the same ethos.”

28000Wh/200kg= 140Wh/kg.
1300lbs~=590kg 85000Wh/590kg = 144Wh/kg.

Without using any special materials, using only mature battery techs, crash-proof etc. etc. If Tesla would use high-tech batteries it could easily add about 50% to that density right now.

Tesla has nothing to learn from others, but others have a lot to learn from Tesla.

I actually hate how much FIA restricts development. They regulate pretty much everything with strict rules. They basically prevent anybody using really revolutionary inventions. It's pretty much same in F1 racing too now.

Timo, you are assuming that the energy density is 28kw/h even though Williams made it clear that their pack has more energy than that. 28kw/h is the minimum amount of energy that the FIA required the battery to have.

I think their battery energy density is around if not superior to what Tesla has. This was accomplished by a small company with little resources to spare and in an extremely short amount of time. This is happening even before any real competition in terms of R&D is being done between the teams, which is when technologies will get pushed. That is what I find impressive.

As far as FIA over regulating the sport. So far the consensus is that teams will be given "carte blanche" as far as the power train, including battery components goes, with the only limitations of weight, chassis architecture and safety. These "restrictions" seem pretty reasonable to me and may in fact help push the technology further due to the size and weight constraints imposed to the teams. Getting the most out of a small and light package will ultimately benefit the whole EV industry. Aerodynamics, which can eat a big chunk of a formula team budget and do not really transfer to road cars, will be restricted.

At least that is what can be gathered from an article of The Guardian, which I quote:

"In the first year, the drivers will all have the same car, created by Spark, McLaren, Williams and Renault. After that teams will be able to make their own improvements. But tight rules mean this has to focus on the battery and drive train, the areas with the most relevance for road cars rather than, for example, the aerodynamic shape which F1 teams spend millions on improving. This also means the cost of running a Formula E team is likely to be about £3m rather than the £200m for an F1 team."

This is a case where I would love to be wrong, but I wont be holding my breath over that.

Here are the current regulations:

From here:[0]=field_regulation_category%3A330

Timo, sadly, it appears that you are right. :(

The regulations do limit power output and energy density of the battery. They also allow for a lot of tinkering in the chassis and aerodynamics. It's sad that that they just didn't froze chassis development completely. Looks like these guys haven't learned from formula one; a good aerodynimisit will always exploit every little loophole the rules gives them when it comes to gaining aerodynamic advantages (Red Bull's double diffuser comes to mind).

Anyways, I agree with you, to many restrictions on the drive-train regulations and too broad on the rules for the chassis; the perfect recipe for a boring and un-innovative racing series. Sad... They had such a great opportunity to create something truly new and innovative. Guess the dinosaurs at the FIA couldn't think out of the box for once.

Sounded nice while it lasted. Thanks for digging out the regulations and going over them.

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