ABB Formula E unites future of e-mobility with a twist of tradition in Berlin

ABB Formula E unites future of e-mobility with a twist of tradition in Berlin

Sustainability is the key message and a founding promise of the zero-carbon world championship

The arrival of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Berlin for a double race weekend over May 14-15 coincides with a historical intersection of causes vital to both the all-electric competition series and to Germany: the rise of electric vehicles and the host country’s progress in transitioning to the renewable electricity sources needed to recharge them.

Berlin’s mid-season dates on the 2021-22 race schedule, wrapping up a five-race European leg, represent a shift from the capital city’s role in recent years as the site of the championship-deciding season finale. Still, a key measure of consistency promises to make the weekend as memorable in Season 8 as it has been in prior years – the backdrop of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. The circuit, laid out on the grounds of the historic airport that served as the city’s lifeline during the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49 as well as the departure point for the humanitarian missions of the “Candy Bomber” flights, will use a 2.4-kilometer (1.5 miles) course of 10 turns.

The location and timing for rounds seven and eight of the championship could hardly be a better fit. Germany’s famed automakers – the country’s leading export producers – are established leaders in creating high-performance models, and the successes of their racing teams are fabled. Powerful cars engineered by Porsche and Mercedes-Benz driving in the fast lane of the autobahn now include pure-electric sedans from those marques, part of the rapidly building momentum in the adoption of EVs. Battery-powered models topped 20 percent of German sales in the final month of 2021, a record in a market that shrank by 10 percent overall because of unrelenting supply chain issues.

Coordinating EV sales growth with the availability of fast, high-power charging from sustainable sources is crucial to advancing the efforts to cap climate change. Charging networks using technology developed by ABB, the global leader in DC fast chargers, rely on a power grid that delivers sustainably produced electricity.

In this respect, Germany is among the world leaders, generating more than 40 percent of its power use from renewables. That’s just the start, however.

Under the targets of the country’s Energiewende transition plan, the transport sector must almost halve emissions by 2030, mainly via the roll-out of electric cars.

Arriving in the German capital as the championship points leader, Stoffel Vandoorne carries the momentum of his tense win on the historic Monaco street course, where Attack Mode strategy and energy management proved once again to be decisive factors. His Mercedes-EQ Formula E team leads the manufacturer standings with a tidy 15-point gap. Close behind in the driver’s points chase Vandoorne is Jean-Éric Vergne, the series champion of Seasons 5 and 6, driving for DS Techeetah. Mitch Evans, the Jaguar TCS Racing driver who took victories in both Rome rounds last month, lies third in the championship.

Headlines were made in Monaco even before the track action got underway. A preview of the third-generation Formula E machine at the Monaco Yacht Club revealed the arrowhead shape of a car that is smaller, cleaner and lighter. The wheels are now fully exposed, and the upper bodywork surface is a smooth, nearly flat plane, providing a canvas for daring team liveries sure to be created for Season 9.

The specifications tell a story of impressive upgrades. Maximum motor output rises to 350 kilowatts, or 470 horsepower, which will push the Gen3 Formula E car beyond 200 mph. Energy recovery will take place at both the front and rear axles, yielding 600 kW of regeneration, good for 40 percent of the total energy needed to complete a race. The regenerative braking capability is so powerful that the cars will not be fitted with a hydraulic braking system at the rear.

When the Gen3 cars take to the track, their batteries at full capacity thanks to ABB’s role as the official charging supplier to the series, energy conservation measures will take on a new dimension because of the improvements in efficiency and regenerative capability.

Further signs of a drama-filled campaign to come in Season 9 include the addition of a new entry by Maserati and the return of the ABT team, which took ABB Ambassador Lucas Di Grassi to the driver’s championship in 2017.

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