Although many celebrated the entry of Mercedes and Porsche in Formula E—this would bring more competition—there are some who blame the big giants for the rot in Formula racing. While there is no doubt that their entry will change electric racing, money is something that Formula E direly needs. Not just Formula E, an electric future—most cars are expected to be electrics in the foreseeable future—needs more innovations, and companies like Mercedes and Porsche have the might to introduce these.
At present, a Formula E car can touch speeds of 174 miles per hour (280kph), and while this is not significantly lower than a Formula 1 car (230mph), the problem is that the car can only run 45 minutes at such speeds. Basically, batteries are an issue. Even though this is an improvement over previous times, it is still far from ideal for an electric future. Take Mahindra, for instance. Being one of the successful teams, it has been able to incorporate its electric technology for mass vehicles, but this has only meant 150km of average running, and a four-hour charging time.
While that is indeed great for city driving, if you plan to travel a lot in a day, an electric car is clearly not an option. Once companies like Mercedes start competing fiercely, Mahindra and the likes will also raise their standard, making batteries longer-lasting and more energy-efficient. Electrics, not just Tesla, will be able to go the distance. Mercedes has been able to do this in Formula 1 itself.
In six years, F1 cars were able to achieve a thermal efficiency—a yardstick to measure an internal combustion engine—of over 50%, a 20 percentage point jump. Mercedes is credited with developing the most efficient combustion engine ever. Similarly, the energy efficiency of lithium-ion batteries has increased from 37% to 96% within a decade.
All this can come true for Formula E as well; the only hope is it won’t take a decade to achieve so. Formula E can wait, but given the precarious situation countries find themselves in regarding climate change and global warming, the world cannot.