We love it when racing tech filters down into road cars.
Jaguar recently unveiled its 2023 Formula E contender and, at the same time, confirmed that it's using the racing series to develop its next-generation road cars. In contrast with Formula 1, Formula E technology has obvious real-world applications even though most of the parts are standardized across the field.
Formula E currently stipulates that all teams run the same body, tires, brakes, battery, and aerodynamics. At first glance, it may seem that there's not much to learn, but Jaguar Land Rover's head of product engineering thinks otherwise. Thomas Muller spoke to Autocar and specifically mentioned software architecture, battery management, and, most importantly, data.
"It's not about transferring hardware pieces, it's about building a body of knowledge. Engineers lead our knowledge of how to solve problems. And the main area of focus that we cooperate on is the powertrain," said Muller.
In short, Jaguar's upcoming EV products, which should start arriving by 2025, will not use a Formula E powertrain, but there's much to learn from the car. The race engineers can supply data from the track to the road engineers, who can then use it to improve the efficiency of the power inverter. Jaguar can also use track data to improve thermal management in all conditions. Like Formula 1, Formula E travels across the globe and visits several different climates, ranging from arid deserts to cold and wet European races.
Jaguar desperately needs its next-generation cars to be a hit. It currently only offers the I-Pace, which has aged dramatically since its launch in 2019.
"This area is super interesting for us to cooperate on and learn from each other," said Muller. "We're in different regulation spaces and different use cases, but in the end, efficiency and how to solve engineering problems are where we work together."
Jaguar Land Rover's head of strategy and sustainability also adds that Formula E is also beneficial from a branding perspective. "Formula E for us is very, very important. It shows that sustainability can be cool," said Francois Dossa.
We're not quite sure about the latter statement. While Formula E's viewership figures continue to grow, they are naturally still nowhere near F1 levels. In addition to that, several high-profile manufacturers have ditched the sport. BMW and Mercedes-Benz have already called it quits, and Audi also dumped the sport in favor of Formula 1.
Nevertheless, it's encouraging to see Jaguar doing all it can to make its next-gen EVs as good as possible.