Category Archives: EV

Formula E: Why Audi don’t need Formula One

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Following on from yesterday’s post suggesting that after their success in the World Endurance Championship, Porsche may be considering a future in Formula One, Livery designer extraordinaire & MsportXtra partner Sean Bull went on to post livery concepts around a Future for Audi in F1 again partnering with Red Bull Racing.

Whilst I’m a huge fan of the livery concept. To me, Audi’s future in motorsport sits within Formula E. Earlier this month Audi became the first German Automotive manufacturer to officially commit to the championship, taking over the Abt team license.

As an automotive manufacturer, Audi has recognised the trend towards Electric Vehicles and are embracing it. In motorsports, with Formula One, Audi would be forced into a battle of the budget in order to compete and to be seen as a success. With Formula E, they can engage with a younger audience demographic within a cost controlled environment, in a sport supported by governments and industry. They have an opportunity to lead, not follow.

As Audi works driver Lucas Di Grassi tweeted last month, drivers might miss the 1000bhp LMP1 beasts of Le Mans but the future is Electric, and Audi have embraced their future.

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Formula One: Mercedes confirm Formula E intentions

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Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd (MGP) and Formula E Operations Ltd have signed an agreement by which Mercedes takes an option to enter the FIA Formula E Championship in Season 5. According to the option agreement, Mercedes may choose to be one of the maximum of 12 entries to be proposed by the Championship Promoter to the FIA to enter the 2018-19 Formula E Championship.

Mercedes could take one of the two new entries that will be allocated in season five – subject to approval of the FIA – when the all-electric racing series goes from the current format of two cars per driver, to a single car for the entire event.

The current 10 teams in Formula E are all expected to continue in Season 5 and beyond, on their current format, or joining forces with other OEM’s.

Alejandro Agag said: “We are delighted to confirm that we have reserved one of our two new entries in Season 5 for MGP. Formula E wants to become the platform where car manufacturers test and develop the technologies that they will then introduce on their road cars. Having the chance to include in the future a brand like Mercedes our Championship would be a major boost to achieve that objective. Formula E is becoming an exciting mix of consolidated manufacturers like Renault, Citroen-DS, Audi, Mahindra or Jaguar, and new futuristic brands like Faraday Future, NextEV, or the likes of major component manufacturers like Schaeffler and ZF. Mercedes would be a great addition to that growing line up.”

Toto Wolff said: “We have been watching the growth of Formula E with great interest. At the current time, we are looking at all the options available in the future of motor racing, and we are very pleased with an agreement that secures us an opportunity to enter the series in Season 5. Electrification will play a major role in the future of the automotive industry. Racing has always been a technology R&D platform for industry and this will make Formula E very relevant in the future.”

As the dominant force in Formula One, committing to a future in Formula E is a bold step for Mercedes Grand Prix and a huge vote of confidence in the success of the series. The development will no doubt have been facilitated by Liberty Media, who own shareholding in both Formula One and Formula E and recently confirmed intentions for the series to work in harmony in future calendar planning, management and possible driver sharing. Could we see Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg duke out future championship challenges in Formula E?

Formula E: Qualcomm on the perfect partnership

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With the second season of Formula E having concluded around the tight and twisty confides of Battersea Park, JWGP sat down with Graeme Davison, VIP of Technology for Qualcomm Europe, to discuss Qualcomm’s involvement with the sport and intriguing plans for the future.

Qualcomm are a founding partner to Formula E. Qualcomm operate as series investors, sponsors and technology providers. They are committed to the success of Formula E. The first engagement between Qualcomm and Formula E took place 4 years ago through a meeting in which Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag presented the concept of the series to Graeme in a meeting in San Diego. For Qualcomm, Formula E ticked a number of boxes they saw as crucial to their own development plans. The series offers a strong Sustainability and Environmental message, it creates a platform to make EV (Electric Vehicle) technology fun and interesting, and it brings motor racing to the City Centre, putting it in the hand of a more technology savvy younger audience.

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Through Graeme, Qualcomm act as a virtual technology officer for the series, providing support on technology challenges far beyond the remit of solutions Qualcomm are actively involved in.

Graeme speaks with great pride over the achievements he has seen in the first two seasons of Formula E, reflecting on the first day of testing for the series

I’ve seen it since the first laps of testing in Donnington in which the only car to complete a lap was the rescue truck. Now we find ourselves at the end of the second season, with the championship so closely contented. It’s been fantastic”

On the success of the series Graeme continues:

“The uptake from fans and OEMS (original equipment manufacturers, e.g. Renault, Citroen) coming to the series and looking at how Formula E can act as a showcase for their EV technology and development. Quality of sponsors coming in is amazing. The championship has gone from strength to strength to strength, It has been amazing”

We went on to explore what it is about Formula E that is attracting so many premium sponsors to the sport:

“As a new series, partners can make more of a mark, a unique name and stance coming to the sport than they can coming to F1. Sponsors look for different things from different partnerships. With Formula E they see a different age group, different emphasis on Technology possibly closer to that you might expect to see with the end user.”

Qualcomm are involved in both Formula E and Formula One, using each platform in different ways. They see a clear advantage to being involved in both categories. When discussing who Qualcomm are looking to appeal to with their Formula E involvement Graeme commented:

“The Formula E demographic is a younger audience. The series is targeting the city dweller that wants to walk or use public transport to come to a race. Fanboost proves social interaction works, it’s very much a marmite topic, you either love it or hate it. When teams first started communicating on Fanboost it would be a tweet in Friday before the race, now you see teams running competitions, fan days, complete fan team immersion. What the teams are seeing is that the audience receptive to this engagement are generally the younger markets. That being said, if you take a look around a event today what you find is a complete cross section of followers form the hard-core racing fan, to the younger generation. “

So what do Qualcomm actually do in Formula E, and how is it developing?

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The Qualcomm Formula E relationship is at an event level so it’ about changing the event experience. What’s in it for the fan’s the sponsor’s, for everybody watching worldwide.

Since the inception of the series, Qualcomm have developed and supplied wireless charging solutions for the BMW i8 Safety car, through season 2 and into season 3 they will continue to work on the development of the safety car arena and the wireless charging. BMW are looking at making some changes on the car, Qualcomm implemented power changes between season 1 & 2, increasing the amount of energy being transferred across. A complete charge takes around 60 minutes, with BMW increasing the power and battery size of the safety car in season 2 Qualcomm increased the amount of energy transfer to maintain the charge time.

Qualcomm are working with Formula E on a number of other topics, but at this time were not in a position to disclose too much information on the projects.

One area Graeme was able to discuss was that of wireless charging in the pitlane

“We are looking at what’s involved in putting wireless charging on the race cars. Many factors must be considered to achieve this including; new materials, space requirements, weight requirements and costs. The added complexity when working with an entire series is that you are working with 10 teams, and working to ensure solutions are built into rules and regulations

It’s more than a technology thing, it’s understanding the entire picture. We have completed analysis on the car and what could be done from a technology stand point. We now need to continue the conversation with Formula E on how and when we do it.  Then you have the question of where does it fit in the series? Do we put it in the pit lane so cars can charge while they are parked outside, which wouldn’t be possible under current safety regulations, but would attractive for fans and sponsors, with the cars being on display for greater periods of time”

Thought is clearly being taken into not only finding a technology solution, but ensuring the application is positive for the series.

To round out our conversation JWGP asked Graeme about the ultimate boyhood gamer dream, Mario kart style boosts around a Formula E circuit:

“When Alexandro first came to Qualcomm he asked the question if they could ever have a fully electric track, so you could do a 24hr race. They question is not if but when!

Finally, a question on Roborace and autonomous driving in general

The relationship between Formula E and Roborace is a caretaker tenant relationship. Similar to the Porsche Supercup and F1. Formula E holdings have an asset of a track at events which they want to get more utilisation from to give fans a longer more diverse experience, do more with the track. Roborace is one of those things.

Wireless charging is fundamental to autonomous driving. An autonomous car has to use wireless charging; you can’t expect the technology to find a way to plug itself in.  Qualcomm can support this requirement, It forms part of the Qualcomm autonomous technology toolbox, with automotive snapdragon processor chips, neural networking learning chips, censoring technology that sits on the car, image recognition and computer vision, they are all research programmes that Qualcomm talk about regularly, then the connectivity challenge. Autonomous cars will require 4G and 5G connectivity to function so Qualcomm are looking at ways to support this. Qualcomm can provide these tools to the automotive manufacturers bringing this to the road or to activities such as Roborace. We provide the fundamental building blocks for autonomy, the car manufacturer comes along to utilise the ingredients to make the finished product.

My thanks to Qualcomm and Graeme Davison for taking the time to talk to JWGP on Formula E and the future of Qualcomm within the series.

You can follow Qualcomm on Twitter here and Graeme here.

I look forward to reconnecting with Graeme and the Qualcomm team in the near future to discuss in more detail plans for season 3 of Formula E.

Formula Student: Zero to 100 km/h in 1.5 second! A world record with an electric racing car.

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From 0 to100 km/h in 1.513 seconds: The student team from the ETH Zurich, which is supported by the BMW Group, has successfully broken the previous acceleration record for electric cars. Students of the ETH Zurich and Lucerne University developed the car and set the record during the preparatory phase of the Formula Student. The car reached a speed of 100 km/h within a distance of less than 30 metres on a military airbase near Zurich, breaking the world record of 1.779 seconds. Thanks to the use of carbon fibre materials, the car weights a mere 168 kilograms and features four self-developed wheel hub motors transferring 200 hp of power to the tarmac via four-wheel drive technology.

Thus, the team is ideally prepared for the forthcoming Formula Student Germany taking place on the Hockenheimring from 8 to 14 August 2016. For seven days, 115 teams from more than 25 nations will be competing against each other in their racing cars following a long period of development. In addition to bolides with combustion engines, 40 racing cars featuring an electric drive system will also be fighting for victory, which cannot be achieved by speed alone. Design, cost budgeting and the business model must also convince the jury of experts from industry and commerce.

Last year, the AMZ Racing Team from the ETH Zurich, which is supported by the BMW Group, was awarded second place in the overall ranking, making it one of the potential candidates for the podium this year, too.

Since the founding of the Formula Student in 2006, the BMW Group has been one of the main sponsors of the competition. Since 2010, the company has also supported young engineers as a team sponsor and will again put three teams from the Formula Student Electric (FSE) on the starting grid this year – municHMotorsport (Munich University), elbflorace (TU Dresden) and AMZ Racing (ETH Zurich).

In the process, the teams receive not only financial support, but also advice from BMW engineers and access to manufacturing technologies. For instance, on 28 July 2016, the BMW Group meets Formula Student Event will take place during the BMW Driving Experience in Maisach. In the course of this event, the teams have the opportunity to tune their cars down to the smallest detail and exchange ideas with their BMW Group mentors. They get final tips and tricks during driver training from proficient BMW Driving Experience instructors.

Moreover, the teams supported by the BMW Group receive comprehensive support in building and designing their self-developed racing cars. Employees acting as mentors are available to the students during the entire period.

Formula E: #Fanboost Fix?

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Accusations of teams fixing the Formula E #FanBoost system are emerging on social media today with Daniel Abt posting:

Calling out both the Renault eDAMs team and Dragon Racing for using automated ‘bots’ messages to artificially increase driver #Fanboost ranking ahead of the forthcoming Berlin ePrix.

Formula E modified the #Fanboost system for season two including social media messages through Twitter and Instagram in the count and leaving the count open for the opening laps of each race. The FIA and Formula E promoters have stated on numerous occasions that the Fanboost system can not be manipulated and all votes are genuine.

At the time of writing Dragon Racing’s Jérôme d’Ambrosio is leading the vote.

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To check for updates or post your own vote head to the Formula E homepage here

Formula E: Moscow ePrix Cancelled

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Formula E series organisers have today confirmed that the Moscow round of season 2 of the championship has been cancelled. Despite extensive negotiations it has not been possible agree terms around road closures and traffic management for the event.

The series have explored alternative locations to replace the Moscow round but owing to time constraints have elected to instead accept the cancellation and focus efforts on the remaining three rounds of the series in Berlin and the London double header.

Cancellation of the Moscow round will likely bring into question retention of the round in season three.

“While it is unfortunate news not to race in Moscow on June 4, we looked at a number of
alternative options as a replacement but were not able to find a viable solution on that specific date,”

said Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag.

“We explored all possibilities including returning to Monaco, but regrettably couldn’t organise the change of venue on such short notice. I’d like to express my thanks to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Mr. Michel Boeri, and the Automobile Club de Monaco who did their utmost to see Formula E return to the streets of the Principality for season two. We will now focus on the three remaining races in Berlin and the double-header in London, which I’m sure will deliver a thrilling conclusion in the battle for the championship.”

Formula E: Renault partner the 2015/2016 FIA Formula E Championship’s Paris ePrix

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Renault will be a partner of the 2015/2016 FIA Formula E Championship’s Paris ePrix. The all-electric single-seater racing cars will compete around the French city’s famous Hôtel des Invalides monument on April 23.

Renault is a pioneer in the world of electric vehicles and, during the meeting, its Z.E. range will be displayed in the race’s ‘e-village’ which will be open to the general public and guests.

After winning the inaugural Teams’ title in 2014/2015, Renault e.dams currently tops the 2015/2016 standings and will be particularly keen to shine when the FIA Formula E Championship visits the streets of its home country’s capital.

Formula E: Avis talk Mahindra Formula E Team partnership and an EV future

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Ahead of the 3rd Round of the FIA Formula E 2015/16 Season in Punta del Este, Uruguay, JWGP spoke to Mahindra Formula E Team sponsor Avis about their involvement with the team and perspective on EV technology. Darren Peacock, Director of Brand Marketing EMEA, Avis Budget Group offers his insights:

Jon Wilde (JW): How did Avis come to be involved with the Mahindra Formula E team?

Darren Peacock (DP): Avis was introduced to the Mahindra Racing team through a corporate relationship that we had established. Avis recognised the potential of the sport and it generated a real enthusiasm with everyone who became involved with the negotiation.

JW: What initially attracted Avis to Formula E?

DP: Formula E’s ambitious global plans align with our own global footprint and commercial strategy. The championing of sustainability and clean energy was a refreshing and much needed angle in motor sport which matches our own vision of mobility in the future.

JW: What attracted Avis to Mahindra? Do you have any deals outside of Formula E?

DP: In Mahindra Racing we recognised a company who were not only committed to the sport but also developing automotive technology for everyday travellers

JW: Formula E have taken a very different approach to other racing categories in the way in which the series engages with fans, did this influence your decision to get involved with the series? Do you think it is paying off?

DP: FanBoost is a really unique aspect of the sport which puts fans at the heart of the sport which certainly appealed to us as an organisation which works hard to offer an unrivalled customer experience.

 

JW: Building on the EV (electric vehicle) agenda, how relevant is the technology and the cars to Avis now and in the future? Do Avis have EV’s in the company fleet already?

DP: EV technology is extremely important to the future of mobility and Avis is involved in a number of projects across the globe, in the UK we offer a Hybrid range while in Denmark we operate the largest Electric vehicle fleet for a car rental company in Europe and we continue to work with manufacturers on future developments.

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JW: Do Avis plan to increase motorsport sponsorship in future to cover other categories?

DP: At present Formula E is our current focus although we are constantly reviewing opportunities through our manufacturer partners.

JW: Does Formula E involvement represent good value for money in terms of consumer/ brand awareness?

DP: We partnered with Formula E towards the end of the 2014/15 season and so this year’s season will be our first full season to measure the performance of our sponsorship.

JW: Would you encourage other consumer facing companies to consider Formula E as a promotional platform?

DP: Obviously each company has to evaluate what property is relevant to their product or service.For a very new competition the sport has already attracted some of the most respected brands in the world so anyone who joins will be in good company. From a great start it is only going to grow in popularity especially amongst a younger audience.

JW: How would Avis like to see the category develop in the coming years? (additional venues,increased vehicle performance, increased vehicle differentiation)

DP: Given our global footprint at Avis with 5,450 rental station around the world we would love to see expansion to further markets. Expansion in to key territories including the Middle East would expand the sports appeal and customer base while meeting the strengths of our network.

JW: Have Avis looked at using the Mahindra Formula E team as a basis for business to business deals, for example something like AVIS and IHG (other Mahindra sponsor) offering fan packages for race events or as Mahindra supporters?

DP: As a travel specialist we consistently partner with other premium brands in the industry to provide added value to our customers. Specifically for Formula E we joined up with IHG to create a competition offering fans tickets to the last race of the season and accommodation with IHG. This attracted much interest so is something we are keen to repeat.

Thanks to Avis for this candid perspective on Formula E engagement, best of luck to the Mahindra team ahead of this weekends action.

To see more on the Mahindra Racing Formula E team click here

To check out the latest offers from Avis in your area click here

 

 

Formula One – Formula E: Jaguar confirm motorsport return with Williams Advanced Engineering

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Jaguar, in Partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering, earlier this morning confirmed their entry to the 2016/ 2017 FIA Formula E Championship.

Taking over the franchise, but not infrastructure,  vacated by the Trulli Formula E team, the team will acquire four new Dallara chassis and develop its over powertrain.

Entry into Formula E will coincide with Jaguar launching roadcar EV technology, which following the success of the C-X75 concept, will be a joint development again with Williams Advanced Engineering.

At this time Jaguar have not finalised details around the final team name, the livery, or driver line up, although representatives are keen to make clear the team will focus on the heritage of the Jaguar brand alongside new technologies

Jaguar’s entry into Formula E represents the brands first official participation in a single seater series since the sale of the Jaguar F1 team in 2004. The team that went on to become four time world champions Red Bull Racing.

FIA Formula E offers a unique opportunity for Jaguar Land Rover to develop its own future EV powertrain including motor and battery technology on the track, which will be seen in the brand’s future range of passenger vehicles. The team entry has been granted by Formula E and approved by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering, said; “There is a saying that racing improves the breed and Jaguar’s entry into Formula E will be a powerful way of honing a new generation of EV technologies for its products. We are delighted that they have chosen Williams Advanced Engineering as their technical partner in this new and high profile chapter in Jaguar’s racing history. Williams has extensive knowledge of EV technology, racing car design and the logistics of running a successful racing team so we are well set to support Jaguar in what promises to be an exciting new challenge for both parties.”
Nick Rogers, Group Engineering Director for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Jaguar is proud to announce its return to racing. We’re at the forefront of pioneering technology. Over the next five years we will see more changes in the automotive world than in the last three decades. The future is more about being connected, electrification and lightweight architectures. Formula E enables us to engineer and test advanced technologies under extreme conditions.
“Formula E will provide genuine live testing for future electric vehicle powertrain technology, which will appear in our new range of vehicles. We are working with a number of partners on the future of electrification including Warwick University, battery suppliers and of course our long-term partners Williams. We will have our engineers embedded with Williams from the start and our innovations will directly affect future Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.”
James Barclay, Jaguar Team Director, said: “We looked in detail at alternative ways of returning to motorsport. This was such an important decision for Jaguar and we wanted to get it right.  With our future EV plans Formula E was the obvious choice and we believe that the benefits are enormous. The FIA and the promoter have exciting plans for the future of the championship and we are proud to be one of the first vehicle manufacturers to commit to the series with our own team. We have a lot of work to do ahead of the first race but it is a challenge we relish. We hope that we can welcome a new generation of fans to Jaguar through this exciting programme.”

Involvement of Williams Advanced Engineering in this project is a further demonstration on the diversification strategy of the Williams Group (Williams F1 Team) such developments strengthen the core of the business reducing any reliance on sponsorship. It should not be dismissed that Williams and Jaguar may look to further expand their partnership in future years, possibly towards Formula One.

Check out the video to celebrate the launch here:

 

Formula E: Renault commit to the EV sector through Motorsport

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RENAULT AT THE FOREFRONT OF ALL-ELECTRIC MOTORSPORT

Ranking amongst some of the most innovative companies in the world, Renault is at the forefront of the electric automotive sector with vehicles such as its Z.E. range, as well as the iconic ZOE and Twizy. And thanks to its motorsport commitments and unique racing pedigree in a range of categories, the French carmaker is also helping to foster the move towards more sustainable racing.

Recognising its potential, Renault jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the FIA’s all-electric championship as soon as it was announced in 2011. Travelling to some of the world’s most famous cities, Formula E’s ethos fits in perfectly with the French manufacturer’s environmental strategy. In keeping with its identity as a pioneer, Renault has made the most of the championship as an international platform in order to showcase its proficiency and expertise in electric systems. With innovation and excellence etched into Renault’s DNA, it was only natural that the manufacturer would support Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot’s bold venture into the world’s first fully electric competition.

Renault has been directly involved in Formula E’s development since 2014, contributing on both technical and sporting matters.

It was appointed Formula E’s Official Technical Partner, with Renault Sport Technologies overseeing all systems integration as well as supervising powertrain electrical safety and performance optimisation on the 200kW Spark-Renault SRT_01Es.

Renault also served as a partner to the Renault e.dams squad, which went on to win the inaugural 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Teams’ championship.

Renault’s commitment to the sport has equally portrayed its readiness to apply the technological progress to all-electric vehicles in general, boost engine performance and improve battery autonomy.

For the 2015/16 season Renault has increased its involvement with reigning Teams’ title-holders, Renault e.dams. Producing its own powertrain, Renault has exclusively devoted its technical expertise to the team, which is determined to continue fighting at the front and has both the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles in its sights for season two. The cutting-edge technologies developed by Renault Sport for Formula E could subsequently benefit the constructor’s Z.E. range of road-going cars.

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CYRIL ABITEBOUL
RENAULT SPORT F1 MANAGING DIRECTOR

“Renault has a long history of embracing innovation in competitive motorsport. Our operations base in Viry-Châtillon has produced some of the most evocative and successful technology ever seen on track, including the 1970s Formula 1 turbo engine and V10 and V8 power plants that dominated F1 in the ’90s and 2000s.

“Ahead of Formula E’s second season, Viry’s full experience and expertise is being applied with one aim – to continue in the spirit of adventure and innovation, mirroring the success enjoyed in other motorsport disciplines.

Continuing Renault’s spirit of adventure and innovation, and mirroring the success enjoyed in other motorsport disciplines start with harnessing synergies between our motorsport disciplines. Through our F1 power unit we have developed a range of competences in electrical technology that will only be furthered by running in Formula E. In this way, and others, we hope to realise the full potential of Renault across all our competitive activities.”

Opinion: Formula E appears to offer the perfect vehicle for Renault to demonstrate it’s commitment to the EV sector, it should be considered significant that Cyril Abiteboul features in the press launch of Renault’s season 2 campaign, further underlining Renault have options away from Formula One. Renault eDams have focused solely on winning both the drivers and constructors championship in Formula E season 2. If things don’t go there way in F1, Formula E offers a very healthy alternative.