The control panel for one of the Enel X DC fast chargers used by each Formula E team. The rest of the charger is hidden behind the panels that line each temporary garage, and the Formula E race cars use a custom charging plug (not pictured). [credit:
Enel X ]
BROOKLYN, New York—This past weekend, the Formula E electric racing series made its annual return to these shores, racing in Red Hook against the backdrop of the downtown Manhattan skyline. When the checkered flag waved on Sunday, it marked the end of Formula E’s fifth season. I’ll have some more thoughts on the race weekend itself, as well as how the series has matured over the past half-decade shortly. But first, I wanted to look at an aspect of the sport that maybe we’ve neglected down the years. It’s one that probably has more direct relevance to anyone who owns an electric vehicle than any other aspect of EV racing—DC fast charging.
Perhaps it should have been obvious. After all, I’ve written thousands of words about the reasons why car companies decide to enter motorsports. Every racing series balances competing aspects—being a sporting competition, being entertainment for the public, being a marketing platform, and being an arena for research and development for new road-car technology.
While I’m not naive enough to think that technology transfer into road cars is the most common or predominant reason to go racing, it’s also not an avenue that should be dismissed out of hand. Windshield wipers, disc brakes, dual clutch transmissions, and even direct injection engines were proven on track before filtering their way into the showroom. For the automotive OEMs that are flocking to Formula E, this is one of the attractions, particularly as the series is keeping a tight control of things like race-car aerodynamics that can explode budgets without a scintilla of relevance for street cars.