Formula E racing further confounds those who are just getting into Formula racing because there are now so many of them. You have Formula 1 racing all the way down to Formula 4, Formula 3000 (GP2), Formula BMW and Ford, and so on. What separates Formula E? What kind of power do they use and what is the horsepower?
Formula E is an electric racing series, hence the letter E. These are all-electric vehicles so they run on battery power rather than combustion engines. They have a top speed of 200mph and 469 horsepower, a significant boost over generation 2’s 335hp.
Generation 3 Formula E racecars are the latest innovations in the sport and are a very large step up from the previous generation. Performance across the board is significantly improved and, although Formula E is not the most popular variation of the sport, it's worthy of your attention.
Not only does generation 3 introduce fans to a much more powerful and robust racecar, but they have also managed to make the cars more sustainable while reducing carbon pollution and crafting more sustainable and recyclable tires.
Formula E cars are single-seaters, just like you would expect and they don’t necessarily race on traditional tracks. Formula E races take place in tightly controlled raceways within cities, where everything is bottlenecked and it makes for an overall more exciting event than a traditional track would.
When you have a battery that propels your vehicle to 200mph and comes with nearly 500 ponies worth of power, it leads to more interest and more questions about how that was achieved and what the other specs are.
While the Formula 3 car retains the overall aesthetic of what most fans expect to see in a Formula racecar, they are subtly designed in ways that separate them from the rest of the pack. Formula E cars are more streamlined and they are certainly more colorful.
The vibrancy of the aesthetics, angles, and curves are truly what separates the Formula E racecar from its cousins in F1, F2, F3, and F4 racing.
As you can see, there is not much difference in the size and weight of a Formula E car over a Formula 4 or Formula 3 car. The largest difference is the way they are designed. There is little doubting that if you are an artist or have a high level of technological sophistication, Formula E is just too attractive not to watch.
The major factor that separates Formula E from the rest is the fact that it is all-electric. These vehicles don’t have engines and make very little noise outside of the friction of the rubber tires on the asphalt. From that perspective, it's a little different watching a Formula E race over an F1 race.
In terms of power, there are only a couple of factors worth considering—maximum power and maximum regeneration. Regeneration is how much electricity the spinning tires regenerate and makes their way back into the battery.
It's like dealing with miniature turbines or an alternator. The maximum power in generation 3, Formula E racecar is 350kW. The maximum regeneration power is 600kW. So everything is in terms of maximum battery power and how much is regenerated as they race.
It takes a bit of getting used to if you’ve grown up learning all of the terminologies behind the combustion engine, which is the vast majority of Formula racing.
The powertrain in the Formula E Gen 3 is interesting in that it is the primary, defining aspect behind the regenerative capabilities of the Formula E car. According to FIA, 40% of all of the regenerative power of the Formula E racecar will come from braking.
Otherwise, Formula E doesn’t have any hydraulic brakes in the rear, which is a change from the previous generation. While it does have hydraulic brakes in the front, it also has a small motor in the front that is responsible for transferring the energy from braking into power that is then funneled back into the battery.
The motor itself retains about 335hp, although it has very little if nothing to do with the horsepower propelling the vehicle forward. It is partly responsible for providing the potential energy for propulsion through regeneration.
The regenerative power capabilities of the Formula E racecar are far and away beyond the capabilities of the best Electric Vehicles on the road today.
Michelin is the primary manufacturer behind the tires that you will see out there in a Formula E race. Michelin supplies Formula E racecars with the Michelin Pilot Sports EV tire which is specifically formulated for Formula E and nothing else.
It's an 18” tire and the first of its size to be used on a Formula E car. Michelin’s EV tire is a grooved tire (which you can’t really see as a spectator since the tires still look smooth and flat), with a highly energy-efficient formulation.
It's considered to be a high-performance tire and it should be, especially considering the type of racetracks that the Formula E cars will be on for the vast majority of the time. Despite the fact that they are supposed to be capable of reaching 200mph, the nature of the racetracks makes it so that top speed is nearly impossible.
Of course, this means that tires and grip become much more of a priority and they are designed for this kind of road torture, with very narrow sidewalls and texture grip that is closer to what you find on regular cars.
Generation 3 is a major step up in the evolution of Formula E racecars. With 469 horsepower, the powerful battery in Formula E is capable of pushing these cars to 200 mph, with an incredible acceleration as well.
(Top photo: Formula E Gen2 car
KAgamemnon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)