On Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s Monaco E-Prix, Formula E finally unveiled its next electric race car. It’s called the Gen3 car because it’s the third generation to be used by the series, and will be introduced at the start of next season.
Much of the reaction online has been about the car’s unconventional looks, at least in terms of what people expect race cars to look like. But then people reacted that way about the Gen2 vehicle as well. The new bodywork is more sustainable than before, with linen and some recycled carbon fiber (from retired Gen2 cars), which Formula E says will reduce the carbon footprint of the Gen3 car by 10 percent.
The new Formula E car is smaller than the previous version, with a narrower track and shorter wheelbase. It’s also gone on a diet, cutting the car’s mass from Gen2’s 903 kg to 760 kg, which is just lighter than a current F1 car, for context. Gen3’s weight reduction is coupled with a significant power increase: from 250 kW (335 hp) to 350 kW (469 hp), deployed to the rear wheels. With a top speed of 200 mph (320 km/h), we expect lap times to be significantly faster than before.
But for the first time since the sport’s inception, the EV race cars will finally have a front motor-generator unit as well. In this application, it’s better to think of it as a generator because Gen3 won’t be all-wheel drive in terms of deploying energy. But it gives the car the ability to regenerate up to 250 kW at the front axle under braking and 350 kW from the rear axle. This ability means the cars will become more efficient than the Gen2 machines, which can only regen from the rear axle.
As before, manufacturers will design and build their own rear MGUs. But the front MGU will be common across each team, supplied by Atieva, part of the same company that includes Lucid Motors. Atieva previously supplied battery packs for the Gen2 car, so it is no stranger to Formula E.
But Gen3 has a new battery with new suppliers. The pack was designed and built by Williams Advanced Engineering and now uses pouch (as opposed to cylindrical) cells made by Total Saft. It’s designed to charge at up to 600 kW—i.e., maximum regen at both axles—and the press materials suggest there might be some form of in-race fast-charging, although I might be misinterpreting that the cars can regen up to 600 kW. Exactly how many kWh will be available to drivers at the start of the race is yet to be announced; the Gen2 car uses a 54 kWh (net) battery pack.
So far, only one person has driven the new car—Formula E test driver Benoit Treluyer, who is quoted by The Race as describing the Gen3 car as “a seriously quick and agile racing car.”
Seven manufacturers will compete in season 9, including DS Automobiles and Maserati (both Stellantis brands), Jaguar, Mahindra, Niro 333, Nissan, and Porsche. But you shouldn’t have to wait that long to see some good racing. Unlike Formula 1, Formula E cars have put on an extremely good show at Monaco in previous visits, and this year’s race should be no exception. You can catch it on Saturday at 1 pm ET on CBS.