The all-electric Formula E bills itself as the future of motorsports. And despite the current lack of huge-name talent, noise and drama we expect from most forms of racing, automakers like Jaguar, Nissan, Audi and Porsche are all-in. Starting later this year, meet the car they’ll all race with.
Formula E—formally the ABB FIA Formula E Championship—unveiled the latest Gen2 car today, and it’s what the series’ 10 teams will race in the 2018- 2019 season. It looks good! It had been likened by series officials to the Batmobile, and they more or less delivered on that idea. It looks similar to the current IndyCar and Formula One racers, with a bit more of a prototype vibe thrown in for good measure.
Series CEO Alejandro Agag was quoted in ESPN as saying it’s more than just better looking too: “The cars will be faster and will have almost double the amount of energy storage capacity and double the range, demonstrating the continuous evolution of battery technology,” he said. That should, in theory, make for better racing.
The car’s being billed as “the future of racing,” and that’s accurate on at least one front: this race car has the halo over the cockpit, a controversial safety measure in other open-wheel series designed to protect drivers from head injuries. That’s being mandated for the 2018 season of F1 as well. On the FE car, the halo includes a ring of embedded lights, and we’ll see how that gets used. I’m eager to see how drivers react to its presence.
More than that, I’m hopeful these new cars push Formula E’s speeds and excitement to the next level. While a ton of automakers are getting involved—it’s much cheaper to run than a F1 or Le Mans team, and being “green,” it’s good PR—but the racing itself isn’t quite where it needs to be yet. The Jalopnik staff attended the New York race last year, and it felt more like a marketing conference with some very aggressive electric karting attached to it than a racing series that fans will obsessively tune into. But it’s young yet, and it has plenty of opportunities to get better. This may be a step in that direction.
In the meantime, we’ll see the new FE cars at the Geneva Motor Show next month, and on track later this year.