Legacy Automakers Ride Formula E Wave In EV Catch-Up Race

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Legacy automakers striving to catch up with EV leaders like Tesla are turning to their Formula E electric racing teams for innovative solutions. These automakers aim to enhance mass-production EVs by improving range, efficiency, and affordability.

While Formula E has faced challenges in winning over motorsports enthusiasts due to the lack of sustained power and noise of internal combustion engines compared to Formula One, legacy automakers believe the competition helps them develop efficient motors, inverters, and software.

In the electric vehicle shift, the race to maximize or regenerate power in Formula E cars, which start each race with only 60% battery capacity, drives the development of more efficient technologies. Legacy automakers, such as Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover, are leveraging Formula E technology, like silicon carbide inverter technology, to enhance the efficiency of their next-generation premium-model EVs. Through over-the-air updates, Jaguar Land Rover has already applied lessons learned in managing battery temperatures to improve the range of their Jaguar I-Pace EVs.

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Nissan, also playing catch-up in the EV market, plans to introduce 19 fully electric models by 2026. The Nissan Formula E team’s software is initially based on the Nissan Leaf’s, aiming for more efficient motors, inverters, and smaller battery packs for mass-market EVs. Porsche, involved in Formula E, is not only using technology but also talent transfer, reassigning top engineers from its Formula E program to road models. On the other hand, some automakers, like BMW and Mercedes, have taken different approaches, with BMW leaving Formula E in 2021, while Mercedes uses its F1 team to design more efficient EVs.

Stellantis, focusing on electric models, particularly affordable ones, is utilizing findings from its upscale DS brand Formula E team to expedite EV development across its 13 brands. The rapid technology transfer in the electric revolution is seen as a key factor by industry experts, with Formula E founder Alejandro Agag highlighting fast charging as an area where significant progress has been made. As manufacturers stay committed to Formula E, it continues to serve as a valuable laboratory for testing and advancing EV technologies.

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