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McLaren to build Formula E racers

By

November 15, 2012

McLaren will build the motors, transmissions and electronics for the new championship (ima...

McLaren will build the motors, transmissions and electronics for the new championship (image: SRT)

McLaren has announced that it will supply and build the motors, transmissions and electronics for the 2014 Formula E season. FIA World Championship Formula E features solely electric powered cars, with races taking place in metropolitan centers around the globe. The support of the major motorsport name is likely to significantly boost the new championship's image.

McLaren will partner with Spark Racing Technology (SRT) to design and assemble the electric vehicles (EVs). Together they will produce the 42 cars on order from Formula E Holdings (FEH). In terms of performance, the EVs are comparable to their combustion engine cousins, with expected top speeds in excess of 200 km/h (124 mph). The 2014 season will feature ten teams, each with two drivers, increasing to 12 teams by 2016.

Unlike the popular Formula 1 championship, Formula E events will take place in metropolitan centers around the world, made possible by the zero emissions and super-quiet nature of the EVs. So far, Rio de Janiero has signed up for a spot on the schedule, while cities in the US, Mexico, Monaco and India have expressed interest in the championship. Due to the limited rage of the EVs, drivers will have to change cars twice during the hour-long races, putting an interesting spin on the tried and tested pit stop mechanic.

While you might be familiar with the McLaren brand from its premier Formula 1 team, or from its flashy super cars, the company is also no stranger to eco-friendly work. In December 2011 it became the world's first carbon-neutral Formula 1 team, a significant milestone for the sport.

The fledgling Formula E championship will aim to play a significant role in the development of electric car technology. Martin Whitmarsh, CEO McLaren Group and Team Principle of Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes stated that by working with SRT, they hope to keep both companies “at the forefront of technical innovation and hopefully open up great opportunities for the racing cars of tomorrow”. One of the key goals of the championship is to create a framework for the research and development of EVs, with the competitive nature of the sport creating an impetus for breakthroughs in efficiency and battery life.

While Formula E is likely to provide a boost to both the technology and the image of electric cars, the industry is already experiencing significant growth. A number of manufacturers have released electric cars with home charging or on-board solutions, while Tesla has begun rolling out a gas station-like charger network across the United States, with plans for an expansion into Europe in the near future.

Source: McLaren via Wired

About the Author
Chris Wood Chris recently graduated from the University of Exeter with a degree in Politics and Ancient History. Based in the U.K., he has an enthusiasm for technology of all kinds, specializing in mobile tech and games. In his spare time you might find him running, playing music, following NFL (Pats fan) or fueling his ever growing Swiss watch obsession.   All articles by Chris Wood
5 Comments

124 mph isn't fast for a race car. Maybe the Mc Claren co. will produce a quick recharging battery, then eventually a fast EV?

Gargamoth
15th November, 2012 @ 04:09 pm PST

So much here doesn't seem right.

Shouldn't McLaren make the chassis and leave the electrics/ electronics to others?

Are they the only supplier a la 1 design racing?

If 1 design then why have a transmission with only a 124mpg top speed? They mostly jus break from the massive EV torque and why Tesla to stop using there.

124mph is plenty on a tight road course.

jerryd
16th November, 2012 @ 08:57 am PST

Couldn't they have a way to exchange batteries during pit stops? That way there would be no need to have breaks.

Nelson
16th November, 2012 @ 11:52 am PST

Nelson, Battery swapping or shorter races is how EV's have always done it.

Fast charging is doable but fairly problematic and time consuming. Only really viable in endurance races of many hrs. Transferring that much electric power, 100-200 kw in 10 minutes is going to blow up batteries and melt things which would make it rather exciting but not in a good way.

Swapping it far better in so many ways.

jerryd
16th November, 2012 @ 05:12 pm PST

Battery exchange would be best. I always think of racing in terms of driving and battery exchange will be the means of long distance driving in the electric car era. A battery change per 100 km would do a lot for ordinary motorists. (You and I would do 250km per battery change).

This in turn would create a need for small privately owned power generators (I'm thinking nuclear) and trailer batteries that can be dropped off for recharging on those interstate trip.

Think of a 24 hr race with a limit of 12 battery changes. A new era has started.

pointyup
1st December, 2012 @ 09:07 pm PST
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