When the lights went out on very first ABB FIA Formula E Championship race in Beijing in 2014, electric vehicle technology was in its infancy.
Now, thanks to eight years of experimentation, testing and adaptation on Formula E street circuits around the world, the electric tech hitting our roads has improved immeasurably, with the goal of improving the air quality in cities all around the world.
To celebrate World EV Day, we take a look at the progress made since Formula E began.
Gen1 to Gen3 - more power, speed and regeneration
Back in 2014, the Gen1 car produced a humble 200kW of power, which was enough for it to hit a sizeable top speed of 225kmh and be able to regenerate 100KWh of power. While impressive for the time, the cars were a radical shift away from anything that had gone before them in motorsport, catching the eye of curious bystanders and fans as they cut their way through the streets of the world's greatest cities.
From there, the tech stepped up a notch with the arrival of the Gen2 car in 2018, which packed a 250kW power pack that saw it reach a top speed of 280kmh and have the ability to regenerate its entire operating power input. With a new, bolder look and enclosed front wheel arches, the robust racer ushered in an all-new era of Formula E, which saw BMW, Audi, Mercedes-EQ, Porsche, DS, Jaguar, Mahindra, Nissan and NIO battle it out as the series grew. Taking on new street circuits, the Gen2 car carried four different drivers to the top of the championship before its final outing in Seoul, 2022.&
With the much-anticipated arrival of the new Gen3 car for the 2022/23 season, the lessons learnt over eight years of electric racing have produced a car with 350KW of power, that's capable of 320kmh and can regenerate a staggering 600KWh of energy. Compared to the Gen1 car, the Gen3 Formula E racer is 75 percent more powerful, a greater top speed by 95kmh and six times the power regeneration capability.
Global EV sales are at an all-time high
Considering there were less than 500,000 EVs sold when the Gen1 car was cutting through the streets, the sales figures for EVs around the world have increased by 1220 percent, to 6.6million as of 2021. With more low carbon EVs on the streets, the world's fleet is gradually transitioning to lower emissions transport and, in turn, helping to improve the air quality in cities.
With manufacturers like Porsche, DS, Jaguar, Mahindra, NIO, Nissan and McLaren committed to racing in Formula E, the global series continues to showcase the very best in all-electric technology in more than 10 countries in Season 9.
Race to Road - real-world improvements gained from racing
While Formula E is a spectacle on its own, the Championship also serves as a catalyst to develop and hone electric car technology on the streets for real-world use. Racing in the series since Season 5, Nissan has taken its learnings on track and applied them to one of the most popular electric cars around the world - the Nissan Leaf. Since the start of the series in 2014, the Leaf's battery capacity has increased by 181 percent - from 22KWh in 2014 to 62KWh in 2022.
For everyday drivers, the Leaf's range has increased by 184 percent, from 135km in 2014 to 384km in 2022, meaning more mileage from a single charge, making EVs a realistic alternative to combustion engined cars for commutes as well as longer journeys.
Over at Jaguar TCS Racing, the British racing outfit has been busy channeling its Formula E learnings into its road car division since it entered the series in 2016, improving real-world driving with increasings in energy efficiency. The team did this through predictive energy optimisation, all informed by Mitch Evans and Sam Bird's lift and coast cycles during races.