Tech Giants Line Up To Make Bids For Production Of Formula E Batteries
Deal could have far-reaching repercussions in the race to develop electric vehicle technologyby Kirby Garlitos, on
Formula E may not be on the level of Formula One in terms of prestige, but the growing popularity of the electric racing series cannot be denied, so much so that some of the biggest electronic companies are jostling one another to secure the sport’s new battery deal. Two of these companies happen to be Japanese tech giants - Sony and Panasonic - and both are among a handful of firms that have submitted applications for the chance to win the rights to design and produce the batteries that will be used in Formula E beginning in the 2018 season.
According to Motorsport.com, Sony’s bid includes McLaren Electronic Systems as a partner. MEC is the same company that supplied the motors to all of the teams that competed in the inaugural 2015 season. The Japanese company’s interest in Formula E is a logical fit considering that the company is among the biggest electronics manufacturers in the world. The same holds for Panasonic, which already has a history in Formula E as a partner of the Dragon Racing team in the first two seasons of the series.
In addition to Sony and Panasonic, other companies that have also lined up their respective applications include Red Bull Technologies, Renault, DS, Mahindra, Williams Advanced Engineering, and Total, in conjunction with SAFT SA. A ninth company has also made a bid but its identity has yet to be revealed.
FIA officials are expected to meet with their Formula E counterparts to discuss the applications before a winner is announced. There is no specific timetable for the announcement, but all things considered, a decision could be made as soon as the end of the month.
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Why it matters
If you think about how far Formula E has come in just two seasons, I’m actually surprised that only nine companies have made bids to be the new battery supplier of the teams and the series. It would seem like a perfect way for a tech firm to get into the world of motor racing while still pushing for state-of-the-art technological developments in the real world.
Also, browse through the names associated with the bids and you’ll notice that a lot of these companies are also known to have a foot or two in the development of electric and autonomous driving technologies. Winning this bid will definitely go a long way in showcasing the products that can be developed for use in the world of Formula E racing.
It’s the perfect job to have if you’re a company that’s pushing for developments in electric and autonomous driving technologies. It becomes even more important in the long run if the technology developed ends up being a boon for the sport and helps it grow its popularity. Imagine the possibilities that open up if everything breaks in that direction.
There’s no denying that Formula E’s popularity is trending up. A case can even be made that in certain parts of the world, Formula E has become more popular than Formula One. It’s a ridiculous sentiment if it was brought up two years ago, but given where the auto industry as a whole is at this point and how electrification and autonomous driving are quickly shaping its future, the growing popularity of Formula E makes a lot of sense.
That in itself is reason enough to get on board as a major supplier for the series, something I’m guessing all the companies that made tenders to supply the new batteries are well aware of.