Mahindra Racing, the sole Indian team participating in the ABB FIA Formula E season right since the championship’s inception seven years ago, will be using a completely new drivetrain developed its technology partner ZF. ZF is also supplying silicon carbide-based power electronics alongside the electric motor and transmission.
This year’s championship starts on February 26 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia and has official World Championship status for the very first time. Following the start of the season in Saudi Arabia, the provisional schedule includes six more races so far in Rome, Valencia, Marrakech, Monaco, and Santiago de Chile.
While developing a new electric drive for top motorsports is already a major technical challenge, ZF engineers had to master another obne in 2020. During the past 18 months and due to the coronavirus pandemic, ZF and Mahindra Racing engineers co-developed an entirely new electric drivetrain for the current vehicle under very difficult conditions. Thanks to ZF's experience to date in Formula E, it was possible to refine the technical approach once again, especially in terms of weight and efficiency. "The future of mobility is electric! Evidently also true for motorsports. As a major supplier of electric drive solutions, ZF faces competition for efficiency and speed in Formula E. We excel in both disciplines! On the racetrack and when developing new technologies," says ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider.
Mahindra Racing team principal Dilbagh Gill says the team is well prepared for the upcoming race season: "Results from the last several months of testing are really encouraging and it now comes down to the team and drivers to deliver the results we deserve at the opening races in Diriyah. What the project has so far shown is this is a truly unique and special partnership, built upon a mutual understanding of the importance of true collaboration, with Mahindra Racing and ZF engineers working side-by-side towards a common goal to deliver the very best performance and efficiency.”
From racing to volume production
"ZF uses its experience of applying technology under harshest conditions in motorsports so to learn for its volume products," says Stephan von Schuckmann, who is responsible for the Electrified Powertrain Technology division on the ZF Board of Management. Thus, ZF's Formula E drivetrain relies on silicon carbide in its inverter. This semiconductor material is considered a promising alternative to the silicon that had been commonly used for far, as it allows for significantly higher efficiency at the very same performance level. Silicon carbide chips can increase the range of e-vehicles by up to seven percent. At the same time, high efficiency makes silicon carbide semiconductors ideally suited for 800 volts drive systems. Thus, they almost halve the charging time of an electric car, compared to the current 400 volts technology.