After reading Hansen’s Tesla Model S Review, it got me thinking about something that’s been on my mind for a while: what other performance electric vehicles (EVs) are out there? Sure the Model S isn’t exactly a performance car, but it’s pretty damn fast. Well there’s the Tesla Roadster which looks kind of like a Lotus Elise, but really isn’t (according to Tesla they only share 7% of the same materials – Source). There’s also the upcoming Detroit Electric SP:01 which is an electric version of a Lotus Elise. Then there’s the Renovo Coupe which is an electric version of one of the most beautiful cars ever made, the Shelby Daytona (pictured below). Starting to see a trend? Fear not as there are other, more original options as well. The Rimac Concept One, for example, promises to provide a Pagani level of beauty and oomph with it’s claimed 1088hp and equally ridiculous 1180 lb/ft of torque. This car could seriously contend for, if not eventually be, the fastest production EV out there.
So what does this all mean? Well it means that as EV vehicles become more mainstream, and believe me they are being adopted quicker than you realize, it opens up a whole new audience to the automotive world. These fast, sleek looking EVs could potentially breed a new form of gearhead. One that pertains to only EV vehicles. Well with any good auto enthusiast comes the need to go fast. And many times this translates to racing. But there’s no EV racing series, you say? Good news future EV speed enthusiast, someone’s already thought of that for you.
Formula E is essentially Formula 1, but with EVs. And it is sanctioned by the FIA. So it’s literally Formula 1 with EVs. There are many regulations and rules, but a quick overview shows: 10 teams, 2 drivers per team, 40 cars (each drive gets two cars per race as a pit stop involves changing from one car to the next). The season, which is 4 races deep, has 9 stops with Miami and Long Beach being next in line. The lone supplier of the cars is Spark Racing Technology with the Spark-Renault SRT 01E. Chassis are made by Dallara with McLaren supplying the electric motors; the same ones you would find in their P1 hypercar. The battery system comes from Williams F1, but many other manufacturers are rumored to be developing batteries and motors including Audi, Volvo, BMW, Drayson, and Remac. Also, they go 0-60 in ~3 seconds and can reach up to 140mph. Which all gets a bit hairy on very tight street circuits.
You might be thinking, “Sure this looks all well and good, but this is a fledgling series with nothing but F1 rejects and test drivers. This won’t end well.” You’re only partially correct. While the series does showcase some former F1 names (Lucas di Grassi, Bruno Senna, Nelson Piquet Jr, Nico Prost, Jarno Trulli, and Nick Heidfeld might be a few you’d recognize), these guys are far from washed up. Many are highly successful at other styles of racing. And on the other point, the racing is actually GOOD! Below is an entire race from YouTube (round 4 from Buenos Aires). Watch it and I dare you not to wince or make audible noises as these guys slide, lock up, and punt each other all over the place around these tight, city racing circuits.
And the best news of all is this: F1 trickle down technology is in many of our cars today. Formula E will only help to make current EVs even better and possibly also help combustion cars with enhanced technology. Let’s hope that this series creates some more great racing and technological advances we’ll see in our own cars soon. As for now, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the show. For more information on Formula E, check our their home page.
Photo credits: Renovo, Formula E
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