The Technology of Formula E

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Why Electric Cars?

To answer this question, we need to take a step back and understand the main challenges that transportation has to address. Firstly, whether or not you believe in global warming, it is a fact that our carbon emissions worldwide have increased to levels that are not sustainable, and will damage our environment to a point of no return. We HAVE to make electric cars a reality as soon as possible.

“We have to make electric cars a reality as soon as possible…”

Secondly, it is now proven that pollution in cities (where more and more people live) is directly linked to the increase of respiratory diseases. It is critical that we move the pollution from tailpipes away from cities to the power plants where electricity is generated.

Even if all cars on the road were electric and powered exclusively by coal power plants, the net result in terms of carbon emissions would be more favourable than it is now. But the reality is that countries all over the world are making their energy mix greener, by increasing the use of renewable energy such as hydroelectric, wind and solar power.

The reason electric cars are the future is because their efficiency is far greater than all other forms of propulsion currently in use. In a car with an internal combustion engine, you get on average 25% efficiency, which means that for every 100 units of energy (petrol or diesel), only 25 will actually go to the wheel and make the car move, the other 75 is wasted, mostly through friction and heat. Pure electric cars, however, have an average of 80% efficiency (some a closer to 95%), which means that for the same 100 units of energy (electricity in that case), 80 go to the wheel and make the car move.

image of a DS Virgin Racing car on the track

If Electric Cars Are So Great, Why Are We Not All Driving One?

The main reason is a technical challenge around the energy storage. Petrol cars, despite their mediocre efficiency, are able to travel reasonable distances on one tank of fuel because petrol itself is extremely energy dense, around 12,000Wh/kg. In comparison, current lithium batteries can store about 200Wh/kg, which is 60 times worse than petrol. Even if you factor in that EVs are 3x more efficient, we still need to improve the energy density of batteries by a factor of 20.

Alongside the development of EV technology within the team, the next generation of DS Automobiles will harness innovations directly derived from their electric concept vehicle ‘E -Tense’.

“We can make a positive difference and accelerate the pace of development…”

This is the reason Virgin entered Formula E. We strongly believe that by bringing the best partners together and using the best talent available in motorsport, we can make a positive difference and accelerate the pace of development so that electric vehicle technology will contribute positively to all road vehicles.

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