Starting from this season, Formula E teams have been able to modify the powertrain from the battery backwards, including the motor, gearbox, inverter and rear suspension. Find an overview of all the differences of the teams’ powertrains.

Renault e.dams showed a strong performance in Beijing, with driver Sébastien Buemi almost unbeatable. What’s their secret?Find out the key differences, supplied by the FIA Formula E Championship.

Gears
One of the most interesting differences is the amount of gears. Some teams use the original five sequential gears and single motor, while others have less gears or even twin motors.

TEAM GEARS MOTOR
NEXTEV TCR 1 Twin
DS Virgin Racing 1 Twin
RENAULT e.dams 2 Single
Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport 3 Single
DRAGON Racing & Venturi 4 Single
Trulli 4 Single
Mahindra Racing 4 Single
Team Aguri 5 Single
Andretti 5 Single

There are different considerations for each, but a pay off between efficiency and weight seems to be key.

Tech experts from FIA Formula E Championship explaining on their website:
The original Spark-Renault SRT_01E from season one has five sequential gears, with a Hewland gearbox and McLaren motor modified from the P1 sportscar. The gears allow the motor to be as efficient as possible by working in power bands to match the revs and reach the zenith of the cars potential on bends, chicanes and straights – effectively maxing out at every point on a twisting street circuit. But every time a driver shifts up or down a gear, there is a drop in power for a few milliseconds; the car almost cuts out momentarily. This is inefficient, as the regeneration of the battery also stops. And this is a championship based around the battle of speed versus energy, where conserving energy matters.

So, the fewer the gears, the more efficient the car? Up to a point. In our road cars, the majority of EVs do not have gears. With 100 per cent torque, a single gear does the job. But in a racing environment, especially off the start line, things are a little different. It’s possible the cars can’t get the optimum torque at the start without a gear. So how do you maximise efficiency throughout the race, whilst maintaining maximum acceleration off the start? Let’s find out what the results from Beijing showed.

Here are some key differences, explained by Formula E:

Renault e.dams
Renault e.dams appeared to be very strong, almost unbeatable in Beijing.

– The gear set-up they have chosen is based on two gears, a starter gear and then a single race gear. So they have minimised any inefficiencies from shifting up and down through the gears and maximise the power off the start.

– It’s light, it’s one of two cars on the grid that hits the minimum weight requirement of 888kg, alongside ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport. Other teams like Venturi and Dragon are slightly over the mark, whilst DS Virgin is one of the heaviest and NEXTEV needs to go on the Atkins diet. So how have Renault e.dams achieved this slender toned body? They have developed a carbon fibre gearbox casing.

– Money and man power help too. Renault heavily invested in the car and technology, rumoured to be over an eight figure value (USD). And also Vincent Gaillardot is the man behind the car – he has 10 years’ experience running electrical and electronics projects at Renault, including Formula 1 and the partnership with Formula E on the season one car.

NEXTEV TCR / DS Virgin Racing
NEXTEV TCR (as well as DS Virgin Racing) chose the single gear, twin motor solution. The single gear reduces the inefficiencies of gear changes, but the twin motors are bigger and heavier, especially in the case of NEXTEV TCR. The additional weight (30kg plus, possibly as much as 50kg but this is unconfirmed) will take effect on chassis balance. The Formula E car already has a balance of 61 per cent to the rear, so with this added weight it’s going to really effect the competitiveness and efficiency of the car.

SOURCEFIA Formula E Championship
SHARE
Tim is co-founder of ElectricAutosport.com and works in international motorsport. He found his passion for sustainable racing by joining world's first competition for hydrogen electric vehicles in 2008. He does not doubt on the possibility of a break through of electric racing. And that deserves a platform to keep up to date and to interact. Tim operates on behalf of Formula Blue Media.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It was pretty obvious that Renault e-Dams would be miles ahead. Most of the teams last year were pretty unhappy that e-Dams were allowed to pair up with Renault in season 1 as they had been involved in the development of the original chassis and the integration of the systems. It was only by some bad luck and a couple of poor driving errors that stopped them winning everything last season.

    As they had been involved in the project, they had access to and knowledge of a huge amount of technical data, test feedback, as well as drawings that the other teams were, and in many cases, are still unable to see. They have far more knowledge of the battery, inverter, etc. than anyone else.

    Bearing in mind the season 1 car was a compromise designed to get the series underway and to try and provide as much reliability as possible, they would no doubt also have been involved in discussions with Spark about other possible concepts (i.e. a single speed transmission), weight distribution, etc.

  2. Great article.
    Very informative for those of us that are not insiders.
    Manufacturers have been buying championships for about a century now, so I thank Renault for wanting this one.
    Where are the BMW’s, Volvo’s, and Honda’s.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!

Please enter your name here