Cop27: Formula E highlights sport’s role from battling climate crisis to EV range anxiety

Electric vehicles continue to be one of the biggest tools of change available in the climate fight today, with sport providing one of the platforms for manufacturers to design and research crucial technology.

Within the world of motor racing, Formula E is leading the charge to showcase not just how sport can play a major part in reducing emissions and lowering its carbon footprint, but also in helping shape real-world action on a much bigger scale - as has been emphasised during Cop27 at Sharm el-Sheikh this week.

Speaking on the climate action stage, Formula E’s sustainability director Julia Palle explained the scale of vehicle emissions’ impact and how much difference it would make once the entire globe was able to transition to EVs.

“Cities are at the heart of what is going wrong at the moment. We are overcrowding them, there’s air pollution and traffic is too much,” she said.

“Transportation globally represents 25-33% of global emissions. If we all switched to electric vehicles, you see we’re in a much better place in terms of trying to hit that 1.5 [degree] target.

“We were the first sport in the world to achieve net zero carbon status by 2020, ten years before the United Nations recommendation. And the following year, the first sport to align onto science-based targets. That’s innovative in itself and showcases to manufacturers, to other racing championships, that it can be done.”

As part of both its sporting differentiation and appeal to manufacturers, Formula E - which is set to soon head into its ninth season - holds many races on street circuits across the world.

This, as Palle detailed, allows a much higher level of feedback for stakeholders on exactly what their new and under-development technologies can achieve - and what more work needs to be done. Indian car giant Mahindra, as well as Jaguar, BMW and Mercedes, were all used as examples of EV manufacturers who have been able to take technology utilised in FE and apply it to commercial vehicles, including the much-debated range of electric batteries against fossil-fuel powered cars.

Thus, the sport has a direct impact on upcoming advancements in the climate battle.

“The whole point for them is they can test their solutions in a very demanding environment. They can take back and analyse data after the race weekend - Mahindra have been learning about the composite of their car and transfer that into their road cars.

“When you look at the Indian automobile market, that’s not a small thing with the billions of people that will have access to this in their daily cars.

“Software technology updates, battery improvements and more sustainable composites of bodyworks as well [are developed here to use in road vehicles].

“Mercedes has directly used the technology used within Formula E garage to develop one car running over 1,000km - between their HQ in Stuttgart and Silverstone - on one single charge. When you talk about battery range anxiety we can discuss this topic, that’s not a bad range anymore!”

For Season 9, starting in Mexico in January, the newest batch of upgraded vehicles will be on show. The third generation of FE cars are faster and weigh less, while also seeing more emphasis in their design in terms of the lifecycle of parts and materials, enabling an increasingly holistic approach to sustainability.

“Gen3 is setting the benchmark in performance, technology and sustainability. It’s the first time in history a motorsport championship has put sustainability at the top of the criteria to create new race cars,” Palle said.

“There’s a strong commitment and role to play from the championship to be present at these key events and showcase that there’s a solution and a way forward from the mobility perspective.”

:: Tickets for the London E-Prix on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July 2023 are now on sale at fiaformulae.com/London with adult tickets starting from £35 and concession prices for children.