Category Archives: Formula E

Renault Z.E 15: simply revolutionary

[Includes some nice ZOE footage] Renault is at the forefront of the electric automotive sector and is helping to foster the move towards more sustainable racing. Renault participation in Formula E is a boost for the development of the electric range of road-going vehicles. 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.

How Formula E can overtake F1 and help save the world

Find out why this electric racing series has a shot at becoming huge — and how its technology could change the cars we drive for the better.

It might seem a bit of a stretch to say that a motor race can help save the world, but with Formula E, that’s not such an outlandish statement.

This new race series, held on the streets of cities around the world, uses cars that look almost identical to the vehicles seen in the globally popular Formula 1 series, but are powered entirely by electricity rather than petrol.

Aside from becoming a popular and profitable race series, Formula E has two main goals. The first is to act as a testing ground for new electric motor technologies which can filter down into mass-produced production cars. The second and arguably more important goal is to inspire the general public into seeing electric cars not simply as a novelty driven by an eccentric few, but as an exciting option for everyday people.

Standing behind a small concrete barrier, only a foot away from the cars as they hurtled past on the third corner, I can confidently confirm that this event is every bit as exhilarating as classic motor races like the Le Mans 24 hours.

Read more: CNet

Eight manufacturers to enter Formula E next season

Formula 1 overtaken by Formula E?

Richard Branson, feels that the FIA approved Formula E electric car series will replace Formula 1 as the world’s most watched racing format.

Branson, who owns the Virgin Racing team, was speaking at the final round of the 2015 Formula E season run at Battesea Park in London. The last race of the series, run on Sunday, was won by Sam Bird, who currently races for the billionaire.

Unlike Formula 1, dominated by Mercedes at present, the Formula E championship has seen six different teams winning over the course of 11 rounds. Virgin Racing managed to pick up two victories during the season and ended fifth on the constructors standings.

The Briton believes the product is in a very strong position and will continue to improve, placing Formula 1 under pressure and eventually surpassing it in terms of a global audience, among other factors.

“I think four or five years from now you’ll find Formula E overtaking Formula One in terms of number of people [watching] and more and more, as time goes on, clean energy businesses are going to power ahead of other businesses,” he said.

“There’s still going to be room for Formula One for a few more years but I would say there will come a time when Formula E will overtake it.”

Branson thinks the electric car series has a number of aspects in its favour, not only the close racing it dishes up. Strangely, the fact that the cars are quiet, he believes, make the sport appealing, especially for spectators at the circuit.

“With Formula E, you can still hear the roar of the cars from the tarmac as they come through a corner, but at least you can have a conversation and a drink when you’re watching which you can’t do with Formula One.”

Source: Planet F1

Eight manufacturers to enter Formula E next season

From Formula1 To Formula-E: Car Racing Goes Electric

Jeremy Clarkson may have something to say about it, but the testosterone and fossil-fueled sport of Formula 1 is apparently going green. The former Top Gear presenter would undoubtedly defend a sport in which 8,000 liters of fuel is burnt in a weekend, but as it turns out, Clarkson and other F1ers are dinosaurs: Formula 1 now has competition from Formula E, where, you guessed it, E is for electric.

It doesn’t take a marketing genius to assume that, to a generation brought up with Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, 20-odd combustion-engine cars whizzing around a track sucking gas at 375 km/h (233 mph) might appear, well, unseemly. Now there is actually an alternative. Today’s EV technology has reached a point where electric cars are more than just fancy rides for planet-saving celebrities or those who can afford a Tesla.

While F1 cars have effectively been hybrids since 2009, in 2014 new rules were put in place that cut the amount of fuel used by a third, prompting changes in design. Last year the first Formula E championship kicked off in Beijing, the first of 10 cities to host races featuring high-performance EVs.

The teams, backed by “green” celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson, race Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E cars using technology from F1 teams McLaren and Williams. Unlike regular Formula 1, the cars do not refuel in pitstops; rather, the drivers swap vehicles due to current EV battery limitations. The cars all have an identical chassis and drivetrain, as well as a huge lithium-ion battery that makes up a third of the car’s weight. The familiar roar of F1 engines is replaced by a high-pitched whistling sound, “a bit like a dentist’s drill” described one journalist, covering the first Formula E race in the United States this past March in Miami.

Formula E cars reach a maximum speed of 150 mph, and drivers change vehicles half-way through when the battery in the first car starts to run out.

The greening of motorsport isn’t just confined to electric vehicles, either. In 2008 the world’s first zero-emissions motorcycle race took place on the Isle of Man, UK, featuring electric bikes. A few years earlier, Dutch entrepreneurs built the world’s first fuel-cell-powered go-kart, then raced it in the 2008 Formula Zero Championship, a race series consisting of six universities that competed on a 2-mile mobile race track.

Meanwhile NASCAR, yet another symbol of the combustion engine at the apex of its power, has made strides in making the sport more politically palatable. According to NASCAR Green, the sport has cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent through the use of biofuels, and a “significant number” of NASCAR tracks rely on solar power as an energy source. These include the 3MW solar farm at Pocono Raceway and a 9MW solar facility at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Technologies developed for Formula E are also finding their way into mainstream applications, possibly even a supermarket near you. Williams F1, the British Formula 1 motor racing team and constructor, in April “unveiled plans to fit aerofoils developed from racing cars to supermarket fridges so as to save energy, while a fuel-saving F1 flywheel is being tried out in buses. It is even supplying ecologically- correct supercars for the next Bond film,” reported The Telegraph.

The aerofoils redirect the flow of air to stop cold air from escaping from supermarket refrigerators into the aisles. Sainsbury’s, the UK supermarket chain, has used the aerofoils to cut energy use by 30 percent, according to the Telegraph.

Whether Formula E garners the same global following as Formula 1 remains to be seen, but it is clear that the greening of motorsport is aimed at a new demographic where “green is sexy” and new, sustainable technologies are the way of the future. As Alain Prost of e.dams Renault put it,

“F1 is for people over 40.”

Source: Oil Price

Eight manufacturers to enter Formula E next season

Eight Manufacturers To Enter Formula E Next Season

As was announced earlier, Formula E is looking to diversify the race cars in season 2. In the first season, the cars were all the same in an effort to make to the series very competitive and the cost of entry cheap.

The move from a common car to a whole set of different cars will be gradual to not exacerbate costs, especially for smaller teams, as the series is still in its infancy.

Eight manufacturers to enter Formula E next season
Eight manufacturers to enter Formula E next season

The official statement from the Federation Internationale de l’Automobil revealed that in the second season there will be eight manufacturers that will supply powertrains to any teams participating in 2015/2016 Formula E season:

  1. ABT Sportsline
  2. Andretti
  3. Mahindra
  4. Motomatica
  6. Renault Sport
  7. Venturi Automobiles
  8. Virgin Racing Engineering

In the second season, teams will still get the same car chassis (the Spark-Renault SRT_01E) and the same battery packs, but the electric motor, inverter, gearbox and cooling system will be developed individually by each manufacturer and available for any team at fixed maximum cost.

Read more: Inside EVs

Top 5 Formula E crashes

There’s been no shortage of excitement during the first four Formula E races. As well as stunning overtakes, there’s also been plenty of crashing. Ranging from simple mistakes, to massive hits, we’ve selected the five most jaw-dropping so far.

No-one was hurt in any of these incident, although there were some bruised egos and hard-hit cheque books!

What do you think of our choices? Please leave your comments below.

The Electric Vehicle: Celebrating Five Years of Progress

Towards the end of 2009, zero-emission electric cars were little more than concept cars. At that year’s Frankfurt motor show Renault displayed four electric prototypes – the Fluence, Z.E sedan, the Kangoo Z.E van, the Twizy tandem two-seater and the ZOE subcompact… but that’s all they were: ideas. Electric cars were an utopian dream, something for the sci-fi magazines.

What a difference five years makes. Today electric cars are a reality. Manufacturers, led by Alliance partners Renault and Nissan, have a growing number of pure electric vehicles on sale – indeed, the trail-blazing Nissan LEAF is the world’s bestselling EV.

Major cities across the globe all have extensive recharging posts in place, and extended fast charging networks now link countries. Electric bikes and scooters are readily available and Renault is behind a global single-seat motor racing championship purely for electric vehicles – Formula E.

Cities and towns in France – 18 in all, including Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux – have car-sharing programmes, called Autolib, based around electric vehicles. EVs have caught on in London, too, where the electric Nissan e-NV200 has been developed into an iconic black cab and is due to start taking fares next year.

So what’s going to happen between now and 2020? There can be no doubt that charging networks will continue to expand and sales of EVs will rise and rise. And, who knows, electric vehicles might no longer need humans behind the wheels. Autonomous cars might be at the concept stage at the moment… but as we have seen, a great deal can happen in five years.

Source: Renault-Nissan Blog

Putrajaya Formula E Grand Prix : Malaysian round

Malaysian round delivers great performances and on-track action

Renault Electric Show during the 2014 & 2015 Formula E championship, at Putrajaya, Malaysia (Image: Renault)
Renault ZOE Electric Show during the 2014 & 2015 Formula E championship, at Putrajaya, Malaysia (Image: Renault)

November 22: Spectacular fightbacks, fiercely-contested racing and a host of popular attractions combined to create a fantastic atmosphere at this Saturday’s Putrajaya ePrix. The second ever race in the history of the FIA Formula E Championship served to confirm the growing enthusiasm for the new racing category. In the heart of the “World’s First Intelligent Garden City”, the 20 Spark-Renault SRT01_E drivers once again put on a very high quality sporting spectacle.

Following the success of the inaugural round of the FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing in September, all of the teams and partners involved in the new series were looking for further confirmation in Putrajaya.

A key player since the start of the project, the Renault Sport teams had not rested on their laurels since the opening race. Their never-ending search for complete reliability, maximum safety and optimized architecture led them to strengthen the gearbox installation in order to meet the demands of racing on the streets of Malaysia’s administrative centre.

Mission accomplished, as once again the Spark-Renault SRT01_E race cars experienced no technical problems during this, the second ever ePrix. The single-seaters also proved to be robust and safe again, as the drivers who went off the Putrajaya circuit would confirm. The characteristics of the circuit equally enabled the drivers to show off their skills, as fans were treated to a series of closely-contested battles and incredible fightbacks throughout the 31 race laps.

Before the start, the enthusiastic crowd was thrilled by a brand-new electric vehicle on-track demo, showcasing the performances of the Renault ZE range. Many spectators also took the opportunity to test drive the brand’s flagship models, ZOE and Twizy, in the eVillage during the day.

In a dramatic, incident-packed day, Nicolas Prost (e.dams Renault) relinquished pole position to Oriol Servia (Dragon Racing), following the penalty he was given in Beijing. On lap five, Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) got past the Catalan and held the lead until he came into the pits to change cars. Third in Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2012, the British driver retook the lead four laps from the end when he overtook Daniel Abt (Audi Sport ABT), who was on a different strategy. He went on to secure the win, ahead of Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT) and Sébastien Buemi (e.dams-Renault), both of whom had fought their way through the field from the back of the grid.

The Brazilian continues to lead the championship standings going into the next round at Punta del Este, in Uruguay, on December 13.

Kuan Kim Luen, CEO of TC Euro Cars, Renault’s sole franchise holder for Malaysia:

“Electric vehicles are set to play a key role in Renault’s development in Malaysia. What we saw today makes us proud and gives us a lot of confidence for the future. Not only did we witness a very exciting race but there was also a great performance from the two e.dams-Renault cars, which finished third and fourth! Renault, which is involved in a major EV car sharing programme, was also here with a fleet of ZOE and Twizy cars for members of the public to try out in test sessions, not forgetting the Renault Electric Show. It was without doubt a fantastic day for Renault, both on and off the track!”

Electric Car Recharging

Is now the time to buy an electric or hybrid car?

Best cars and options explored

The future of driving appears to be electric, with Formula E in full effect, supercars adopting hybrid drive systems and range getting further all the time. Fuel powered engines may have their days numbered. But is it time to make the change to electric?

Now that the big car manufacturers are creating hybrid and electric cars we can be assured that it’s the future. And thanks to infrastructure improving all the time for charging stations range isn’t becoming such a big issue. But last year’s Tesla owners won’t get updated with the latest self-driving tech of this year’s Tesla, not a very nice reward for early adopting.

So is it still too early to adopt? Are batteries in cars suddenly going to improve to make current models a joke? We’ve looked at what going on to help give you a clearer idea of what to do.

Pure electric cars right now

The selection of pure electric cars right now isn’t huge, but it’s more than ever before and range is now good enough for day-to-day use. Prices, in the UK at least, are kept reasonable thanks to government assistance taking £5,000 off the price and offering free tax. If you offset petrol costs too you’re saving even more.

At the top end there’s Tesla with its Model S boasting all wheel drive and self-driving smarts starting at around the £50,000 mark. But this is in a league of its own with sports car performance, plus the latest model is not actually going to be in the UK until July 2015, even if you can buy yours now.

Then there are established brands like BMW, Ford, VW, Nissan and Renault all making fully electric cars at affordable prices right now.
Range, charging times, price and power

When going electric most people will be juggling these few key numbers: range, charging time, price and power.

PRICE: Firstly there’s price, at which the Renault Zoe wins by a fair margin starting at £14,000. Nissan’s Leaf can be bought from £16,500, Kia’s Soul EV is £25,000, the VW e-Golf is from £26,000, and BMW with its i3 is from £31,000.

RANGE: The range winner, from the reasonably priced cars, is the Kia Soul EV with 135 miles. In close second is the Nissan Leaf with 124 miles. Coming in behind them is the BMW i3 with a 118 mile range along with the VW e-Golf also sporting a 118 mile range, followed by the Renault Zoe with 93 miles.

Of course if you include the Tesla Model S that wins with its base model eeking out an impressive 240 miles on a charge and its top end offering 312 miles a go. But you get what you pay for.

CHARGE: This is a fairly even playing field with the cars all offering a rapid charge to 80 per cent in half an hour. Across the board it’ll cost you to upgrade your home charger for faster charging but this can result in as fast as a 3-hour charge to full.

POWER: Electric cars deliver all their torque instantly and the engine directly powers the wheels, this means they feel really nippy pulling away. The Nissan Leaf utilises 107hp to do 0-60mph in just 7 seconds making it the quickest of the lot off the mark.

The BMW i3 has 170hp for a 0-60mph time of 7.2 seconds, the Renault Zoe has 83hp for a 0-60mph time of 8 seconds, and the VW e-Golf manages 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds thanks to its 114hp motor. In last place is the Kia Soul EV with its 108bhp delivering a 0-60mph time of 10.8 seconds.

So for price the Renault Zoe wins it, but for range and power the Kia Soul EV comes out on top.

Plug-in hybrid electric cars right now

Hybrids have been around for years with the Toyota Prius leading the way with its dual-drive system. These are now more common than ever with Uber drivers using Prius as the car of choice.

But the market has grown, especially recently, with plug-in hybrids that allow drivers to charge at home so they may never need to use the fuel engine, instead reserving that for long distance journeys only.

From the Volvo V60 Plug-in and Ford Mondeo Titanium Hybrid to the Golf GTE or the BMW i3 with range extender, hybrids are fast becoming viable alternatives to single engine cars. The extra you may spend on the new technology can soon be made back in the petrol and tax savings they offer.

Range, charging times, price and power

Plug-in hybrid cars mean less of a worry about range than pure electric while also offering power and a reasonable price.

As with the Tesla we’re not going to include the likes of the McLaren P1, BMW i8, Porsche 918 and Ferrari LaFerrari as they’re all reserved for the super rich. And we’re only using plug-in hybrids as straight hybrids are fast becoming outdated in favour of the electric only options and extended range of plug-in hybrids.

PRICE: The plug-in hybrid range have all arrived at a similar time with manufacturers savvy to the government’s £5,000 contribution. For this reason they’re all very similarly priced.

The winner, by a narrow margin is the Ford Mondeo Titanium Hybrid from £25,000, with Mitsubishi PHEV GX3h from £28,250 in second and closely followed by the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid from £28,395.

Then we have the Vauxhall’s Ampera from £29,000, Audi A3 Sportback e-tron from £35,000, BMW i3 Range Extender from £34,000 and Volvo V60 Plug-in hybrid from £45,000.

RANGE: Winning with an impressive 967 mile range is the Ford Mondeo Titanium Hybrid but it only manages around 20 miles on electric alone. Closely behind that is the BMW i3 with range extender that offers a 930-mile top end with pure electric for 105 miles, making it overall cheaper to run than the Ford. The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid can manage up to 700 miles in one journey but loses on electric alone with just 15 miles on a charge.

Audi’s A3 Sportback e-tron can last for 585 miles with 31 of those miles on electric alone. Despite its size the Mitsubishi PHEV GX3h manages 500 miles with 32 on electric alone. Vauxhall’s Ampera eeks out 310 miles with between 20 and 50 of those miles on battery.

CHARGE: As in pure electric cars this is a fairly even playing field with the cars all offering a rapid charge to 80 per cent in half an hour. Across the board it’ll cost you to upgrade your home charger for faster charging but this can result in as fast as a 3-hour charge to full.

POWER: The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, as the name suggests, wins this with a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds thanks to 204hp. The BMW i3 Range Extender model is second offering 170hp for 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds.

The Vauxhall Ampera does 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds with 148hp, despite having 178hp the Ford takes 9.2 seconds to get from 0-62mph, the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid gets from 0-60mph in 11 seconds from 134hp, the Mitsubishi PHEV GX3h does 0-60mph in 11 seconds and has 186hp.

The winner for price is the Ford Mondeo Titanium Hybrid but the BMW i3 takes it for range with the Audi offering the most power.

Future electric and hybrid cars

The future of electric cars and hybrid machines is looking positive. Charging infrastructure is cropping up all over the country with Tesla’s Elon Musk promising to install his Supercharger network UK wide by the end of next year.

Crucially, right now, it’s possible to drive pure electric all the way from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England thanks to fast chargers along the way. It might take a little longer than petrol cars since you have to stop for half an hour to recharge, but it won’t cost as much by a long shot. So adopting right now, especially if you’re going for a hybrid, isn’t as risky as it once was.

Another issue is batteries. Developments are being made more and more regularly as car manufacturers pour money into research. But worrying about having an older battery shouldn’t be an issue as, hopefully, manufacturers will be able to swap out old for new future-proofing any car you buy now.

Next year Tesla hopes to offer a car which is nearly completely self-driving. But since that’s out of the price range of most people current electric car offerings are plenty futuristic.

If you’re already driving a car and the cost of petrol and tax are proving too much then electric or hybrid could be your way out.

Source: Pocket Lint

Formula E Racing in Beijing (Image: FIA Formula E)

FIA: What is Formula-e and why should we care?

With only three days until Round-2 of the inaugural FIA Formula-E Championship is upon us, I thought it was time to take a deeper look into this interesting racing series.

The debut of Formula-e racing was held in the streets of Beijing on 13th September 2014. You can read my review of that here. There was great racing from quality drivers with interesting incidents. That’s what you would expect from any racing series so what makes Forumla-e different?

Firstly, the obvious part is the “e” – this is the first fully electric single-seater racing series. The car is the Spark-Renault SRT_01E which uses a Dallara chassis, a McLaren engineered electric motor, a Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) part of which has been engineered by Williams and it rides on Michelin tyres. This being a racing series that champions sustainability and cost saving, the tyre is essentially a road tyre, capable of running in both wet and dry conditions. One set of tyres should last a whole race weekend.

The “electric” part presents a number of issues for ensuring entertaining racing. The sound is an immediate problem, especially in the aftermath of the controversy over Formula 1 went through when the engines were downgraded for eight to six cylinders. The new sound of F1 is more tame than it ever has been and this has led to criticism from pundits and the race going public. So much so that some different artificial sound enhancing tricks have been tried to no avail. This however has meant that the problem of very little sound coming from an electrical power unit being much less of an issue. In practice, the Formula-e car sounds just as aggressive as the current Formula 1 engine, just a little less loud.

Another big problem with an electric car is refuelling. Currently there is very little in the way of technology that allows a car to be recharged in the time it takes for a pit stop to happen. How do Formula-e get around this? Simple, have two cars. Instead of pulling in to change tyres or recharge the battery, the driver simple hops out of one car and into another. Now this works at the moment but it isn’t exactly the most economical way of running proceedings. It means that each team, of which there are ten, has to have four cars as a minimum, two for each driver. Not ideal, however this can only be positive for the future of electric cars. With Formula-e investing time and money improving the image of the sport and electric cars in general, they will surely have to look at a way of improving this set up. Maybe a 3.5-second way of changing the batteries or a 10-second way of charging. All potential exciting developments for the future of road cars.

So, there are some issues but all of them so far, have been easy to account for. Here comes one part of Formula-e that I just can’t get past, “Fan Boost”. Three drivers out of the twenty in the field, are given a 5-second “Fan Boost”. This is measured purely on popularity via social media. This will force drivers to work harder in the media, gain more “Followers” and ask them to vote for them. I am not sure that measuring how popular you are to the public, should have any bearing on anything in your life, let alone the outcome of an otherwise very equal race. This boost, though it seems relatively ineffective, with a 5-second boost equivalent to 40 BHP for the drivers to use twice in the race (once in each car) feels like a poor gimmick taken from 1980’s Saturday morning kids television that Formula-e would do well to be rid of.

Another problem for me is the length of time between races. I understand that the logistics of getting a city ready to host a race are extremely complicated. Unfortunately, Formula-e whet the appetite for this series with an incident packed race-one in mid-September but race-two will not take place until the end of November, easily enough time for the public to forget it. Thankfully the rest of the races will be closer together but still 3 weeks to a month apart, the schedule is below.

Problems aside, the first race was gripping and I am genuinely excited about the close fought racing that is likely to await us in this year’s Formula E championship. I am also eager to see how this innovative series can improve both itself and race cars of the future. It also forces the likes of Formula 1 to ensure they are genuinely at the forefront of fuel-efficient racing and encourages new efficiencies through both series’, into our road cars.

The next race will be broadcast live on ITV4 at 6am on Saturday 22nd November.

Race Schedule

Round 1 – 13 Sept 2014 – Beijing, China

Round 2 – 22 Nov 2014 – Putrajaya, Malaysia

Round 3 – 13 Dec 2014 – Punta del Este, Uruguay

Round 4 – 10 Jan 2015 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Round 5 – 14 Feb 2015 – TBA*

Round 6 – 14 Mar 2015 – Miami, USA

Round 7 – 4 Apr 2015 – Long Beach, USA

Round 8 – 9 May 2015 – Monte Carlo, Monaco

Round 9 – 30 May 2015 – Berlin, Germany

Round 10 – 27 Jun 2015 – London, United Kingdom

* Rio de Janeiro was originally scheduled to host a race in November but the calendar has since changed and though the date has been selected for Round 5, no venue has been announced.