Industry-leading aerodynamic consultancy firm and wind tunnel laboratory FondTech has unveiled details of the world’s first purpose-built all-electric powered single-seater racing car: the E-11.
The battery-powered racer is the result of three years design and development work carried out by renowned aerodynamicist Jean-Claude Migeot and his team at FondTech’s state-of-the-art Bologna headquarters in Italy. E-11 is also the first example of the company’s Formula REV concept; its vision for a new all-electric racing formula.
The project can be traced back to early computer simulations carried out in 2009 before the project was officially signed off in May 2010. Since then CFD research has continued, a 60% scale model wind tunnel-developed and the chosen motor/gearbox assembly bench tested. Chassis manufacture has also begun ahead of the car’s first track test in January 2012.
E-11 is intended to match the performance figures of current-specification Formula 3 cars over a 20-minute duration around any existing circuit in the world. It is the challenges posed by such figures, as well as the car’s conception as the first ground-up electric single-seater, that has seen the E-11 depart from established design philosophy.
The team has taken an uncompromising approach to aerodynamics where ultra-low drag efficiency and mechanical grip are of paramount importance, while four wheel-drive has also been adopted as an essential feature to more than double the car’s energy recovery capacity, which is vital to increase range.
As with any new racing car, safety has been a top priority from the outset of the E-11 project. Contemporary racing cars do not include numerous large, heavy batteries which could pose a substantial risk to drivers, marshals and spectators alike should they detach in an accident. FondTech’s design caters for this by housing batteries deep inside its chassis, while the car will also be crash-tested to a weight-adjusted F3 standard.
FondTech hopes to see its E-11 race in the FIA’s proposed Formula E series due to begin in 2013. At present, no officially ratified regulations exist governing the planned category which, in many respects, allowed FondTech to design their first F-REV project from a clean sheet of paper. Indeed, with the pace of development in the electric vehicle sector expected to increase, the company is optimistic that regulations binding electric single-seater racing cars will remain largely open to help proliferate road car-related technology.
Jean-Claude Migeot, FondTech Managing Director: “E-11 represents a significant leap forward in racing car design philosophy as the first purpose-built single-seater conceived to run solely on electricity.
“With a reputation built on aerodynamics, this adventure into a new sphere of motorsport has allowed FondTech to develop a concept unencumbered by regulations but at the same time bound by the current level of battery technology. Range and weight were always going to provide our biggest obstacles which is why aero efficiency has played such a key role in this project.
“E-11 also includes a number of innovative features, like four wheel-drive, which we believe are essential to extracting the most potential from electric racing cars. Due to the limitations of existing batteries, and in helping restore motorsport’s value as the proving ground of tomorrow’s road car technology, it was imperative that our imagination was not restricted. I am hopeful the FIA will appreciate this pioneering spirit when framing their own regulations in the coming months.”
Luca Gasparini, Head of Engineering: “Everyone at FondTech has really enjoyed the challenge of creating something fresh virtually from scratch. As an engineer it is extremely liberating to work without the usual set of boundaries and principles that often stifle progress in other realms of motorsport. With the E-11 it is the level of a technology outside of our control that has proven most prohibitive so we have had to work hard to overcome a lot of potential pitfalls. That we are able to present this car is testament to the committed team FondTech has at its disposal.”