Formula E is the new kid on the block. The kid which now is gaining attention of the established names in motor sports such as, Audi, Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes – all brands with some racing heritage. It is the battleground, where new technology and advancements happen in the electric car industry, much like what Formula One has been for the automobile industry.
However, there’s a conspicuous absence of one brand. One brand which has redefined the term ‘electric car’. It has brought the luxury, the performance, the safety and the technology into the terms associated with an electric car. That brand is Tesla.
Tesla has brought about tremendous improvements in electric car technology over the past decade, with its Model S, the Model X, the Model 3 and its newly launched line of semi trucks. It’s quite like what Apple did with the smartphones – it has brought in features to its cars which customers didn’t even realize they wanted, or would have found useful. There’s performance. Who would have thought that the fastest ever production car in the world would be an electric car?
Tesla has pioneered the technology behind the success and the performance of electric cars.
Formula E cars are still developing in performance. The drivers have to manage the energy consumption of the cars, they have to swap the cars midway through the race, which is the F1 equivalent of a pit stop. Technology is still developing. Cars are slower than their F1 counterparts, going up to a speed of only 190 km/h.
So, there’s room for much development. This is where Tesla could help the racing series develop. They could bring in the battery swap technology to Formula E, where the driver doesn’t switch the car, he makes a pit stop, and the battery of the car gets swapped in 90 seconds flat. This technology has made its way to Tesla charging stations. Besides, Formula E cars can be made to look sexier than they are today. Aerodynamics could play a part in that, and Tesla is no stranger to that either. Their upcoming Roadster makes good use of aerodynamics, which plays a role in it becoming the fastest accelerating car. They have claimed it’s ‘more aerodynamic than a Bugatti Chiron’.
Unlike F1, where costs are a hindrance to new manufacturers coming in, it’s more open in Formula E, and that is one of the reasons why it’s gaining so much popularity among the big names. Costs are comparatively lower, and regulations are more open.
However, management priorities of Tesla could delay its arrival in Formula E – if it arrives. They have wait lists for their cars stretching to years. They have to focus on improving their manufacturing capabilities, in order to be able to build a Formula E team. As a matter of fact, Tesla Model S cars are already taking part in an Electric GT series, which was conceived this year only. It’s a series in which identical Model S’s, about 20-30 of them take part in races on renowned tracks around the world, such as Paul Ricard in France.
Meanwhile, as Formula E continues to grow and continues to harbor more and more established names, like Fiat-Chrysler who are talking about entering the Maserati name, a manufacturer like Tesla entering Formula E would not only be the most obvious decision that many people had been expecting, but also as mentioned above, be beneficial to the sport. If Tesla succeeds in it, and beats other top manufacturers, it’s credentials as a manufacturer will be tremendously strengthened. Moreover, Tesla will be at an advantage because they are familiar with the technology.
If not a constructor, Tesla could come in as a supplier to supply customer teams such as Techeetah, and Virgin Racing, which is owned by Richard Branson who recently invested in the Hyperloop, another of Musk’s initiatives, much like what Cosworth was to Formula 1.