Formula E has a total of 12 teams with 24 drivers and 24 cars. In addition, there are numerous technology sponsors. This third and final FAQ in EEWorld’s Formula E series reviews some of the current technology partnerships of the various teams. Powertrain partners are particularly important, and battery cooling is becoming an issue, especially as Gen3 cars are fielded. The following is a sampling of several Formula E technology partnerships, with an emphasis on powertrains.
Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler
Schaeffler and Audi work together to develop the powertrain, which comprises the motor, inverter, transmission, parts of the rear axle, and related software. Audi and its technological partner, Schaeffler, worked together to develop the motor generator unit, the Audi Schaeffler MGU03. The engineers aimed to enhance the efficiency and performance of the entire package. And they were successful: 95 percent of the powertrain’s components are new, and the engineers managed to reduce its weight by 10 percent. ABT Sportsline looks after the race cars and was also involved in the extensive development work.
The REDCUBE series of high-current connectors from Würth Elektronik, which have been specially developed for the race track, has been in use in the car since Season 2. In addition, Würth Elektronik developed specific high-current high-voltage chokes and an innovative gate drive transformer for energy-saving, highly efficient electronics in electrical applications. The components are constantly tested under harsh conditions in the “Test Laboratory Race Track” in order to optimize them and adapt them to the requirements for broad use in series applications in electric mobility.
BMW i Andretti Motorsport
Magna provides power train control modules and high-voltage drive systems and is the primary technology partner for BMW I Andretti Motorsport. With three different power classes, Magna supports the whole range of vehicle segments with eDrive systems for full hybrid and battery electric vehicles. For Formula E, drive systems derived from the company’s Highly Integrated eDrive System High can provide a very powerful electric axle drive. With its 160-250 kW power PSM e-machine, inverter, and a torque-vectoring optional gearbox, it meets the demands for the highest performance and driving satisfaction concerning battery electric vehicles.
MAHLE has partnered with DS TECHEETAH on battery and drivetrain cooling. Battery system cooling will become even more important in Gen3 Formula E designs that require rapid battery charging. Decreased charging time results in increased heat buildup due to higher currents. Protecting the battery from damage in such cases calls for active cooling involving all available cooling circuits, independent of outside temperatures. MAHLE already offers high-performance components that make fast charging functionality possible.
Envision Virgin Racing
Envision Virgin Racing has teamed up with Genpact to enhance its race performance and drive innovation in sustainable electric cars. A key part of the partnership will be using AI and machine learning to analyze the huge amounts of data and assess race performance patterns that will enable the team to identify new racing strategies. The new rules that are coming to Formula E mean that every second of a race brings a new crucial decision. Combining deep analytics with car telemetry data feeds from more than a hundred sensors will help the team improve its pre-race strategy simulations and models that lead to more informed race day decisions.
AVX Corporation is partnering with Mouser Electronics, TTI, Inc., and Molex to sponsor the Geox Dragon Formula E all-electric vehicles. AVX supports the advancement of electric vehicle technology with the innovative electronic components, interconnect, sensor, control, and antenna solutions designed to provide peak performance in powertrain, active body control, advanced driver assistance system, lighting, power conversion, and drive control systems. Molex provides connectivity solutions for the drivetrain and other systems.
ZF Friedrichshafen AG is the “Official Powertrain Partner” of Mahindra Racing, one of the founding teams in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Together with Mahindra Racing, ZF has already started development of the electric driveline for the 2020/2021 season. The first test bench tests and test drives of the newly developed driveline, which builds on the successful ZF development status of recent years, are currently being planned. In addition to the electric motor, development includes both a single-gear, highly efficient transmission, and power electronics, which have been specifically designed for the application in motorsports. Already in the sixth Formula E season, which starts in November 2020, ZF will also support Mahindra Racing with chassis development expertise and provide the team with specially developed shock absorbers and engineering services.
Renesas Electronics Corporation is collaborating on system-level design upgrades featuring the Renesas RH850/E2x microcontroller (MCU), designed for the robust requirements of powertrain systems, and Renesas’ automotive battery management ICs. For Season 5, Renesas took a module-level approach to the proof of concept design, developing an electronic control unit including PCB design, schematics, software, and modular-level testing. The upgrades will deliver significant processing power improvements and an improved safety system for the low-voltage battery.
ON Semiconductor is a supplier of the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team and is working with the team in developing next-generation electric powertrain innovations for cutting-edge performance and efficiency. ON Semiconductor has all the core technologies for vehicle electrification, which improves efficiency in the vehicle powertrain resulting in safer and better performing EV/HEV automobiles. ON Semiconductor products and solutions for high voltage power conversion and management include insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), gate drivers, rectifiers, super junction MOSFETs, controllers, as well as wide band gap (WBG) developments in Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride. These are all highly relevant to applications in next-generation electric vehicles, as well as technologies developed for and refined and proven in racing applications.
Although NEO is an electric vehicle maker, the team will not be using its own powertrains, and it instead acquired last year’s powertrain from GEOX Dragon. NIO, however, kept their manufacturer status due to their new powertrain being homologated by the FIA. It is not clear what powertrain the team will be using in the future.
Nissan teamed up with the three-time title-winning e.dams (Renault) ahead of the 2018/19 campaign as they set their sights on becoming the dominant force in Formula E. Nissan developed a unique twin-motor powertrain that delivered exceptional one-lap performance. Their dual-motor powertrain was banned at the end of the season. The Japanese-French alliance has to develop a whole new powertrain design based around a single motor.
Panasonic Jaguar racing
The Jaguar I-TYPE 4, developed with the support of GKN Automotive, features an all-new motor, gearbox, inverter, rear suspension, and dampers and has seen its overall weight reduced, offering improved handling and performance. The lightest and most efficient powertrain the team has ever produced, the Jaguar I-TYPE 4, has a lower center of gravity. The new powertrain also features a new vehicle control module – which increases the processing capacity and allows a faster rate of software development.
TAG Heuer Porsche
ABB has become an official partner of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team and will be supplying the team with fast DC charging technology and systems. Porsche Motorsport has completed its inaugural year of racing in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, while ABB is in its third year as title partner of the first all-electric global race series.
The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team also has a new collaboration with ANSY. Porsche Motorsport engineers are using ANSYS’ system-level simulation solutions to create an advanced electric powertrain that will substantially increase energy efficiency for Porsche’s first-ever fully-electric race car — the Porsche 99X Electric. Accelerating at extreme speeds through demanding urban courses within metropolitan city centers exerts massive stresses on the powertrain of the Porsche 99X Electric. While regulations stipulate a standardized chassis and battery, engineers can customize the powertrain and its subsystems and components to deliver maximum energy efficiency and vehicle performance from the starting line to the finish line.
ANSYS system-level solutions deliver a critical competitive edge for the Porsche 99X Electric, enabling Porsche engineers to create the next-generation Porsche E-Performance Powertrain. This helps provide the highest level of energy efficiency for its vital subsystems and components — maximizing the efficiency of the motor and power electronics to reduce losses significantly.
ROKiT Venturi Racing
ROKiT Venturi Racing initially built its own powertrains, before switching to Mercedes powertrains for the 2019-20 season.
That concludes this three-part FAQ series on Formula E racing. You might also enjoy reading: “Formula E Gen2 and Attack Mode” and “Formula E Gen3 Smaller Batteries, Regen and Fast Charging.”