How Does a Formula E Powertrain Work?

Learn more about the inner workings of a Formula E powertrain… 

The powertrain lies at the very heart of every Formula E car, and despite it being at the front of the technical talk for Season 7, we’re sometimes left wondering just what it actually is.

Well, plainly, the powertrain is an electric vehicle’s version of an engine, and just like an engine, it is made up of a whole host of parts.

The motor, inverter, battery and gearbox make up the fundamental aspects of every powertrain, and all work together to make a Formula E car the efficient all-electric racing machine that it is.

But how does it actually work?

The battery powers the motor and to do that, it transfers direct current [DC] into the inverter which converts this flow of electricity into alternating current [AC].

This AC current then flows into the motor which then directs power into the wheels via the gearbox, making the car move. It’s that simple.

Since Season 2, teams have been able to develop their own powertrain solutions and in 2015, we became one of the first FIA-approved powertrain manufacturers in Formula E.

We supplied full powertrain systems to Dragon Racing until 2016 and to HWA Racelab throughout Season 5 before teaming up with Mercedes-Benz on the eve of Season 6.

In Season 7, we will be using the German marque’s Silver Arrow 02 powertrain, which – with a maximum power output of 250kW [340bhp] – can hit a top speed of 280km/h and can go from 0-100km/h in only 2.8-seconds.

In short, our new challenger is not only efficient but also fast – a fact that was proven in the opening round of Season 7 in Diriyah.

As part of the rules and regulations for the current campaign [designed to cut costs], we are only allowed to homologate our powertrain once over the next two seasons, meaning that we will be using the same hardware until 2022.

It is still possible to refine the car’s performance by developing the software, however, and this is the key part of Formula E’s ongoing tech war between teams. 

This season, we will be able to deploy new software once every race weekend, meaning that each E-Prix will showcase an evolution of car performance.