Mahindra Reva can be called a pioneer. The Indian manufacturer already has over 15 years of experience in the development of electric vehicles and aims to go global by also launching an electric car in Europe this summer. No wonder that they are on forefront of electric racing now the FIA Formula E Championship opens up its regulations to allow powertrain developments. Mahindra becomes one of the eight constructors in season two.
The Formula E organisation has put electric racing on the world map in just a few years time. One of its goals is to provide a platform for the automobile industry to develop new technologies which we’ll be seeing in everyday’s cars in the near future. Mahindra understood that immediately and signed up for this new adventure.
But setting up a Formula E team in a new championship and racing with new technology doesn’t sound easy. And just after four races the FIA announced that Mahindra will be allowed to develop the powertrain. ElectricAutosport.com asked Mahindra Racing Team Principal Dilbagh Gill if he’s ready. “It’s very exciting for the entire team and Mahindra, this is an obvious natural progression,” says Gill.
“Setting up the team in the inaugural season was a fantastic journey which has been very rewarding and we are now looking forward to a new journey in the coming years. We have developed a great structure within the team with the relationship between Mahindra Reva and Carlin engineers, I know that it’s going to be an exciting new challenge for us in Formula E.”
Gill explains that the Formula E global competition is massively important to Mahindra. “Not least because Mahindra are a successful manufacturing company who have already developed a fully electric road car through our Mahindra Reva subsidiary. They have a history of creating great products and we’re proud to be racing in the Formula E Championship showcasing Mahindra’s name and heritage to the world.”
Formula E will open up its regulations, but it doesn’t mean that the cars will look different from next year. Developments on the e-motor, inverter, gearbox and cooling system are allowed. The battery, provided by Williams Advanced Engineering, will stay for at least another year. And so is the Spark-Renault SRT_01E chassis too, provided by Dallara. No aerodynamic changes made by the teams are allowed for now.
With the final races in London being held in the end of June and testing to commence in summer, will there be enough time? “With the timescales involved it was not possible to develop a brand new e-motor so we will develop some aspects internally,” knows Gill. “For some of the larger components we will be working with our partners to develop a bespoke powertrain.”
Despite a tight schedule, Mahindra, Carlin and its partners are well on track to take the next two steps. “We’re already at the point of working on homologation with the FIA. We aim to be testing by end May – which is an ambitious time line – but it’s a target we need to meet in order to be in good shape for season two.”
It’s Formula E’s aim that the teams will run one car per driver in season 5. Therefore the powertrain and battery need to evolve. “Things like this don’t happen overnight though which is why the championship is in such a strong position to pioneer this type of technology,” explains Gill.
He emphasizes the technology is improving rapidly. “If you had asked people ten or so years ago if they thought an electric racing series like this was possible, many would have said no – and look where we are since then. I think that the goal is very realistic and something we’ll all be working towards.”
It’s no secret that Formula E has India on its wish list to organise an ePrix. When asked if Gill would expect to race on familiar ground in the next three years, he expressed that he is hopeful that it will happen. “It would be brilliant to have a Formula E event in India in the next three years and I’m hopeful that we can bring the series to the fans there,” he hopes. “The races are always so well attended and supported by the residents of the cities we race in and I know that the Indian fans would really get behind the event. The championship already goes to amazing cities around the world and of course we hope that we can add India to that list and have a home race soon.”
Gill knows that the championship has gained already a strong following both within India and around the world. “It’s only going to become more popular as it continues so Formula E is a great platform in which to have your brand. It’s also a strong field for developing new technology and we’re proud that Mahindra and India are at the forefront of that.”
Mahindra is currently ranked seventh in the team standings with drivers Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna each scoring a fifth and sixth place. With seven races to go anything can happen and a first podium finish isn’t far away.