By Nick Miles
The Monaco Grand Prix is on this week, thrilling spectators with the sights and sounds of the world’s fastest cars. But there’s another race coming that will add a new kind of excitement into the mix–the cars will run with the latest green technologies.
French car maker Renault has signed on as the technical partner for the Formula E championship, which will put drivers from around the world in identically-powered open-wheel electric race cars. Like BMW and other luxury car manufacturers, Renault has invested heavily in all-electric cars and joining forces with Formula E gives it a global marketing platform to demonstrate the high performance and safety of the latest in electric cars.
“Formula E is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the excellence and the reliability of our EV solutions,” says Philippe Klein, Renault’s executive vice president of product planning.
“We believe that motorsport is an efficient manner to promote the efficiency of new technologies, and we’re eager to use that single-seater in FIA Formula E championship to show our technology is the best.”
This technology has created electric cars capable of producing 180kW of power and weighing just 780kg, which allows them to accelerate from 0-100km/h in three seconds, and race for 25 minutes at speeds of up to 220km/h.
Backed by the FIA – motor racing’s global governing body that also overseas formula one – the Formula E aims to be the first all-electric global motor racing championship, but it should be noted that hybrid race cars are proving popular in most major racing series as the sport attempts to clean up its polluting image. In fact, F1 itself has already adopted a hybrid system (KERS) that uses a 60kW electric motor with a 2.4-litre V8 petrol engine. Next year the series will switch to smaller, more fuel efficient 1.6-litre turbocharged engines with more powerful KERS technology.
Still skeptical about greener technologies? Well, don’t forget that the Le Mans 24-hour race was won by a diesel-electric hybrid Audi in 2013, beating a petrol-electric Toyota prototype racing machine. Based on that victory, Renault’s sister-brand Nissan will compete with an experimental electric prototype in the 2014 edition of Le Mans, and Audi has been working on a green supercar, based on the Le Mans winning diesel-electric hybrid.
There’s no denying it anymore–the future of motor-racing is powerfully green.
To see a video about the Formula E, click here.
To read more about the race, click here.