Amlin Andretti’s Co-Team Principal Roger Griffiths explained in a Hangout session organised by its partner TE Connectivity what excites him about the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship and what technology has been developed.
“Formula E is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done,” said Griffiths. He believes that technological improvements in mainstream automotive are very minor these days. “But we are seeing dramatic improvements in the electric vehicle environment. We are at the start of that technology mountain that we are climbing and almost on a daily basis we are learning something new.”
Looking at motorsports in particular, Griffiths explained the excitement of the unknown that drives him. “One of the exciting challenges we have is that we really don’t know what we don’t know. And it’s about trying to understand what’s the next thing and what next breakthrough is going to come through.”
He added: “As I look at many other motorsport series, I don’t necessarily see where we are going to be in five or ten years’ time. Formula E has a plan, a roadmap, and that was unique for me in motorsports. What we would reach in Formula E with technology where we need to in five years doesn’t necessarily exists today. So there are these technical challenges we need to overcome and that has convinced me that it has a place as a category in motorsports.”
The Amlin Andretti team has partnered with TE Connectivity, a manufacturer of connectivity and sensor solutions for a variety of industries. The multinational supplies connectors and sensors to the Formula E team and shares its knowledge. But not all of the resources come off the shelf, some have to be developed. “There are some sensors solutions that require custom configurations. That’s where we have been using 3D printing technology or rapid prototyping to provide the right configurations,” Griffiths confirmed and emphasises: “We are talking about development in days and not necessarily measured in weeks.”
Regarding using the know-how, he explained: “Take the development of our new inverter. We came up with a case design and we weren’t really sure how to make it. It was very functional, very performance orientated but very challenging to make using conventional manufacturing methods. However, TE Connectivity has been working very hard developing 3D printing technology and we’ve been able to use that.”
In addition to developing new technologies, changing the perception of consumers towards electric mobility is one of the key objectives of Formula E. And Griffiths acknowledges that. “We were talking with a number of OEMs and they have to sell a minimum quantity of ultra low or zero emission cars due to emission regulations. The question was, how to make electric vehicles sound exciting and how to make it acceptable to the public that currently has issues with range anxiety or performance.
“I think we can address some of these challenges with the racing car. We can certainly show that it is fast and as we develop the battery technology and its autonomy, we can demonstrate to people that it is an acceptable solution for mobility. Marketing teams can that use this to sell cars.”
Read how Amlin Andretti’s first days of testing went and what issues they are solving here.