ABB New York City E-Prix brings wheel-to-wheel drama of sustainable motorsport to the company’s largest market

A change in elevation of more than 2,100 meters, from the thin air of Puebla, Mexico, to the steamy conditions of the Brooklyn waterfront circuit, further demonstrates the versatile benefits of e-mobility.

The return to New York City for rounds 10 and 11 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship heralds the comeback of the fully electric racing series to the U.S. after pandemic restrictions necessitated the cancellation of last season’s race. The backdrop shifts from a Mexican vista highlighted by an active volcano, Popocatépetl, to a very different scene: the bustling New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the iconic Manhattan skyline.

The circuit for the July 10-11 races, situated in the fashion-forward Red Hook section of the city’s Brooklyn borough, is a demanding 14-turn layout of 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles) on the expansive grounds of the cruise ship terminal. The track’s elevation, essentially sea level along a hard-working stretch of New York City’s 520-mile waterfront, is a vast change from the Puebla atmosphere, presenting fresh challenges to motor and electronics cooling in humid summer conditions.

Racing on temporary circuits constructed on city streets is a core strength of the ABB Formula E format. Such motorsport events are largely impossible in urban areas because of the noise and pollutants produced by petrol-fueled engines. The single-seat, battery-powered Formula E cars, however, are a good fit for such locales, given their zero-emissions operation and moderate – though distinctive – sound levels. Fans are nonetheless treated to a high-stakes display of performance in this World Championship series, as the 335 peak-horsepower cars are capable of speeds over 170 miles per hour.

The deep commitment of ABB to the round of the FIA World Championship is evident in its new role as title partner of the race. The double-header event will follow strict COVID-19 protocols, created under guidance from the relevant authorities, to enable it to take place in a safe and responsible manner.

The Brooklyn track has previously been a favorable stop in the series for Sébastien Buemi, who drives for the Nissan e.dams team and serves as an ABB ambassador. When Formula E last came to New York, in Season 5, Buemi finished on the podium both days, winning the Saturday round and taking third place the next day. Competing this season in a field of 24 drivers, Buemi will be looking to reverse the fortunes of a frustrating early season.

Taking on the role of title partner this season for the ABB Formula E races in the U.S., where the company has some 21,000 employees along with 50 manufacturing sites, aligns with ABB’s mission to advance sustainability through electrification. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased efficiency of the vehicle fleet are goals well served by the growing shift to electric vehicles, a trend that depends on the expansion of charging networks like those served by ABB DC fast chargers.

ABB has been a leader in e-mobility for more than a decade. This position has been particularly visible within the U.S., where it partners with vehicle OEMs, charging network operators and power utilities to advance interoperability and accelerate deployment of EVs across all types of vehicles. It has provided transit and fleet charging systems to U.S. cities including Portland, Los Angeles and St Louis.

Over the past 10 years, ABB has sold more than 400,000 electric vehicle chargers across more than 85 markets; more than 20,000 DC fast chargers – 3,000 in the U.S. – and 380,000 AC chargers, including those sold through Chargedot.

Meantime, New York state has some of the country’s most aggressive carbon emission targets – a goal of generating 100 percent of New York’s energy from renewable sources by 2040 and reducing its emissions to 1990 levels by 2050. New York City’s efforts include a plan by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to purchase only electric buses starting in 2028 and to have an all-electric 5,800-bus fleet by 2040. ABB is a supplier of charging equipment for the first stage of this initiative, which will include 50 overhead chargers installed in four city bus depots.

Bob Stojanovic, ABB’s director of e-mobility for North America, notes that beyond the environmental benefits of electrification, there are significant quality-of-life advantages – especially in a densely built city.

“In New York City, a lot of things move by truck – mainly loud diesels – and in Manhattan you're in a concrete canyon where everything echoes as they wait and unload,” Stojanovic says. “Take out the fumes and emissions that people have to live with while that's going on and it's life-changing for people in an urban environment – the noise and noxious fumes go down.”

Teams arrive in New York with a new leader in the drivers’ championship, Edoardo Mortara of ROKiT Venturi Racing, whose win in Round 9 helped vault him to the top of the points standings from eighth place. Robin Frijns of the Envision Virgin team, the points leader coming into the Mexico double-header,  lies in second place, with DS Techeetah driver António Félix da Costa, the series’ reigning champion, close behind.

The competition next moves to UK on July 24-25, employing the streets of London’s Royal Docks area. The course routes inside the ExCeL London exhibition center – a layout possible only because the Formula E cars are zero-emissions machines – for another double-race event. The decisive final races of Season 7 are scheduled for August 14-15 at the Tempelhof Airport circuit in Berlin.

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