The next generation of Formula E is nearly here, and it looks appropriately wild as all heck. If you’re going to develop an electric racing series with a spec chassis, there’s no reason to not go aesthetically bonkers. This new car is built with show-stopping looks in mind, but also delivers significantly more performance than the current car, meaning the racing will be faster and closer than ever before when the Gen 3 chassis makes its racing debut later this year. There’s nothing here that sounds even remotely bad to me.
Unveiled on Thursday ahead of the Monaco E-Prix, the new car is said to have been influenced by fighter jet design, and it shows. Formula E is typically run on street circuits, and this new car was designed with street circuit racing in mind. Interestingly, unlike the current spec cars, the wheels are completely uncovered, meaning these cars will once again be vulnerable to punctures and potential unplanned vertical launches from wheel-to-wheel contact. Drivers will need to be on their best behavior for this chassis to stay intact. The car is physically smaller than the Gen 2 car it replaces, meaning racing on small and tight city streets will be a bit easier.
From a performance standpoint, these cars will now be allowed to run a 350 kW motor (about 470 horsepower) up from 250 kW (about 335 horespower) in Gen 2. The cars are also about 120 pounds lighter than the ones they replace. That adds up to a quicker and faster racer, good on all sides. Gen 3 is said to be ready for over 200 miles per hour, while the current gen is limited to about 173 MPH. Excellent!
There are a couple of things about the new cars that will sound a bit unorthodox to people who know how cars work. The Gen 3 car will not have brakes of any kind on the rear axle. All rear-wheel braking will be handled by the motor, through regenerative deceleration. Likewise, there is an electric motor hooked up to the front axle, but it will not be used to provide any acceleration or traction. The front motor will only be used for braking regen purposes.
While the cars are said to be able to recover over 40 percent of the energy expended under braking, the Gen 3 car will have an element of charging to the strategy. In conjunction with partner supplier ABB, teams will develop two-car hyper-fast chargers that are said to be around four times quicker to charge a car than anything currently deployed to the public by Tesla or Electrify America. If every car has to complete something like a five-minute re-charging pit stop, but it effectively doubles the length of the race, I think that would be totally rad to see play out.
You may have noticed that the show car pictured here is sitting on Hankook tires. Michelin has been the sole tire supplier for Formula E since its inception eight years ago. For Season Nine, Michelin will be bowing out, and Hankook will take over as the new supplier. The new Hankooks are built from at least 25 percent natural rubber and recycled fibers to reduce the environmental impact of their construction.
Likewise, the new battery stacks for this season are made by Williams Advanced Engineering, and are intended to be recycled when the season ends.
To recap, Formula E has a new car coming out later this year. Manufacturers will be allowed to build more powerful motors for their machines, and the season is allegedly going to include some element of super-fast charging pit stops. There’s a new tire supplier. The car looks like a mescaline fever dream snorted a bunch of coke. And it’s going to be fast as heck. What’s not to love?