Great racing AND a cleaner future?

Regulatory and infrastructure advancements are required alongside an evolution in perception in order to make electric vehicle ownership a viable widespread proposition, says F1 writer and illustrator Craig Scarborough. Writing for technology website Gizmodo, he believes that Formula E, by showcasing sustainability through sport, could achieve very real social change as well as providing great entertainment.

Historically, bringing motorsport to city centres brings an outbreak of environmental issues, namely concerning noise and pollution. Any city council would have a hard task on their hands promoting such an event. However in Formula E the emphasis is on the low noise and low emissions of the cars.

In its first year Formula E will be a single specification series, with technology provided by big players such as Renault, McLaren and Michelin. Thereafter it will be an open series, with few technical boundaries. Those major players as well as a new cluster of niche technology businesses will be pushing to develop ever more effective electric powertrains. It will be these niche companies that’ll emerge into the larger market of road-going EVs. Technology transfer will be both ways, resulting in far faster development of technology from heat of the battle.

Chandhok to race in Formula E

Former F1 racing driver Karun Chandhok has revealed that he could line up on the Formula E grid for Mahindra Racing. According to news sources, the Indian driver is in advanced talks with the Indian race team and has been for some time, while another Indian ex-F1 driver, Narain Karthikeyan, had also been approached but had declined the offer.

“It is something that I would be interested to do. One of the things that attracts me to the series is that the races will be held on street circuits which I have always enjoyed,” Chandhok told motoring website AutoX. “Mahindra have shown interest in having me as a driver so let’s see where things go from here.”

“The first priority was to get the team launched,” he told news organisation Reuters. “Formula E is a very interesting new concept so we’ll see if we can close something out in the weeks to come. It would be nice to have an Indian driver in the only Indian team on the grid.”

Mahindra makes it team number eight

The Mahindra Group, which includes Indian car maker Mahindra Reva, has confirmed it will enter the eighth Formula E team through its racing division. The team will be called Mahindra Racing.

The announcement confirms last month’s Autocar claim that the company was interested in participating. The tie-up underlines the potential to sell more electric vehicles that manufacturers see in the nascent racing series: Mahindra Reva boasts the world’s largest operational EV-only manufacturing plant, which is capable of producing 30,000 units a year. The Reva part of the company was formed with the sole target of producing affordable electric cars: 2014 will mark two decades of the brand.

Competition for a place in the 2014-15 first season has been fierce, with reportedly more than 25 entities trying to fill only 10 team places. Eight of the 10 teams have now been announced, including three from Europe (Drayson, e.dams and Audi Sport ABT), two from Asia (China Racing and Super Aguri), and two from the US (Andretti and Dragon).

“We strongly believe that Formula E can provide an excellent global showcase for our electric vehicle technology,” said Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director at the Mahindra Group. “With advanced operations and expertise in electronics, IT, automotive technologies and manufacturing, we are already seeing the fusion of this technology into our EV operations.”