Gentleman, Start Your Engines…Quietly

by Dennis Machicao

Channel surfing the other day I was very surprised to find a new sport that is very green in relation to the environment. Well it’s not really a new sport but rather a variation of a sport that one would never think of as being environmentally friendly: formula auto racing called Formula-E.

The cars racing around the circuit are 100% electric; no fossil fuels are used in the running of the cars, as is in Formula 1 racing. The cars look very much like Formula 1 cars but are propelled by a powerful electric engine.

Formula-E racing came about as a means of promoting electric cars for urban use with the concept of making the races a kind of a laboratory or testing ground. R&D tweaks and improves the electric vehicle for their use while improving the environment, familiarizing the automobile buying public to electric cars by giving them more “sex appeal.” This also gives automobile manufacturers a venue to showcase and to improve their electric car technology and gives the motor sport fan a new way to take on the sport.

Although the sport is still in its infancy, it is starting to attract attention and has very high-end investors, like Leonardo DeCaprio and Richard Branson.

It is surprising how fast the cars can go with a top speed of 150 mph. For the moment, since battery technology is still being developed, the cars can run at full speed between 25 to 30 minutes. Each team has two cars so when they come in for a pit stop, the driver changes to another car that has a fully charged battery to continue the race. It is much like when a Formula 1 car comes into the pit to get fuel or new tires.

The first race was held this past September 2014 in Beijing China. The premier race was held in this city because of its symbolism since it has one of the worst air pollution problems in the world. If electric cars were to be used, they would alleviate this environmental problem. During the season, that will end in June 2015, 10 races will be run in different city centers. These races will be held in the heart of some of the most iconic cities in the world (PutrajayaPunta del EsteBuenos AiresLong BeachMiami, Monte CarloBerlin and London) as a means of promoting electric cars, since the feeling is that urban cities are the ones that should have use of electric vehicles as it is where most cars are driven.

These Formula E cars not only eliminate air pollution but also noise pollution. If you ever have been to an automobile race one of the prominent experiences you feel is the noise level that powerful racecars emanate. Since Formula E cars do not have a combustible engine but rather an electric one, the noise level is very low.

Formula E racing is a positive look into the future. With the top technicians and mechanics of automobile racing developing and improving these cars, the electric car will no longer be an oddity but a vehicle that will be widely or even exclusively used for everyday transportation while improving air quality and moving away on the dependence of fossil fuels.

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