Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), which is the sole Indian automobile manufacturer to be participating in the all-electric global racing format – Formula E – since its inception in 2014 with its Mahindra Racing team, is looking to tap domain knowledge in unexplored areas with the learnings from dealing with electric propulsion.
The company’s 2021 season race car – M7 Electro – gets a brand-new electric drivetrain developed by global Tier 1 giant ZF, circumventing thechallenges posed by the pandemic. But, after ‘investing’ seven years into the championship, the Indian automaker is ready to leverage and deploy Mahindra Racing’s insights into new product development of its road-going cars.
“We understand our composites better now,” says Dilbagh Gill, CEO and team principal, Mahindra Racing, in an interview with Autocar India.This understanding is enabling parent M&M to leverage the know-how and implement it into its new offerings, for instance, the all-new Mahindra XUV700, which uses a composite tailgate in place of high-tensile steel to induce greater weight savings.
Cross-functional synergy between Mahindra Racing and M&M’s EV development teams, including those at the EV Tech Centre at MNATC in Detroit working on the company’s Born Electric Vehicle platform, is also progressing at a good pace for knowledge sharing on safety standards of high-voltage electric powertrains.
“Traditionally, Mahindra has worked on low-voltage electric vehicles between 32 and 48 volts, but when we talk about Formula E, we are talking about 800V-1,000V,” says Gill. “At each incremental stage, the safety systems start changing and we are helping Mahindra set up these safety standards,” he adds.
Mahindra Racing’s consistent gains in optimising the efficiency of its electric drivetrains by software settings, is playing a key role in helping Mahindra make this transition from low-voltage to high-voltage EV powertrains. “Software can help either a commuter or a performance EV become more efficient, and I think it’s the biggest area with respect to electric drivetrains,” Gill explained.
Moreover, increasing foray of EVs is also inducing a shift in driving techniques, pushing drivers to switch from the conventional three-pedal or two-pedal style (with automatic transmission-equipped cars) and finally embrace one-pedal methodology with EVs that work on the concept of brake energy recuperation.
“We are working on a project to teach drivers drive more efficiently because it becomes quite important in case of Indian scenario where every 5km of extra range results into additional income for a last-mile operator. We may also create some simulators to make drivers learn in an engaging way,” Gill updates about the contributions being made by Mahindra Racing into preparing the Group for the road ahead.