High-Speed EV Racing Helping to Advance Technology

Electric vehicle (“EV”) technology is constantly evolving. With the EV industry being only a decade old, the technology used to power EVs is still in its infancy. Researchers are constantly working to increase battery capacity and charging speed, make EVs more aerodynamic and optimize software. High-speed EV racing competitions have emerged as quite an effective means of showcasing electric vehicles and advancing EV technology. These events allow developers to put new tech to the test under extreme conditions to find out their limits and how they can be improved.

Formula E, for instance, is an international championship for battery electric vehicles (“BEVs”) that has been around for quite a while already. The championship kicked off in July 2016 in Beijing, China, and included events such as the E-Prix in 20 cities around the world. Over the past couple of years, more EV racing championships have cropped up including the Extreme E race series, SuperCharge, which will kick off in 2022 in cities around the world, and the eSkootr Championship, also launching next year. The latter is quite unique as it will feature electric scooters capable of going up to 62 mph (100 kmph).

These sleek electric scooters look nothing like the clunky scooters you see on the streets. The S1-X, which was designed by motorsport technology company YCOM, will be used in the event. It has a carbon fiber chassis, inflatable tires and a 1.5-kilowatt hour battery along the bottom of the chassis. Founder Nicola Scimeca says the e-scooter offers an “unexpectedly steady” ride and. like all EVs, runs quietly.

The company built the S1-X from the ground up, figuring out the design and how riders would handle it along the way. At high speeds, for example, riders have to swiftly adjust their stance on corners, and this can be physically draining.

The e-scooter’s small battery lasts only four to five minutes at high speeds, Scimeca says, with a single charge covering three to four heats before running out. Roger Griffins, team principal at Andretti United Extreme, says charging presented a significant challenge, especially since most of the team has a history in conventional motorsports featuring internal combustion cars. On average, it takes around an hour to cool down, fuel and inspect an ICE car compared to four hours to recharge a depleted EV battery.

Racing EVs also call for different safety considerations in case of crashes due to all the high-voltage electronics they feature. Once these considerations are sufficiently tested under extreme, high-speed conditions, they can be applied to ordinary electric vehicles. Furthermore, Extreme E and Formula E cars feature silicon carbide semiconductors that allow for more efficient power transfer, potentially adding dozens of extra miles to the range. Once it is perfected, this technology could eventually trickle down to regular electric cars.

Other technologies already manifesting in the EV space include the integration of drone technology in electric vehicles as implemented by entities such as Workhorse Group Inc. (NASDAQ: WKHS). This technology enables fleets to optimize their energy use and ensure delivery route efficiency.

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