Formula E Plans Wireless Recharging of Electric Racecars


  • Spark-Renault SRT_01E Picture

    Spark-Renault SRT_01E Picture

    Wireless charging is set to be a big part of Formula E racing. | September 20, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • The Formula E electric car series has announced plans for a wireless recharging system.
  • Smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm's Halo wireless charging technology will be adapted to be used by the racing vehicles, beginning as early as the second season.
  • Charging pads will be installed in the track surface and activated when the car moves over them.

BERLIN — A dynamic wireless recharging technology expected to substantially alter the nature of electric-powered auto racing will be adapted into the new Formula E series, possibly by the second year of competition in the new series.

The technology is expected to add extra appeal to Formula E, especially among younger, tech-savvy consumers who are prime targets for automakers who sell such vehicles as the Nissan Leaf and Fiat 500e. Promoters of Formula E have predicted that many of the fans of the series would end up becoming electric car owners.

Formula E, an FIA-sanctioned series scheduled to launch in the fall of 2014, will begin with each team utilizing replacement cars in two-segment races.

The recent announcement of a partnership with Qualcomm included a plan to utilize the telecommunications company's Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging system, which would permit a single car to be recharged to run the complete race.

Halo uses resonant magnetic induction to transfer energy between a ground-based pad and a charging pad on the electric vehicle, similar to wireless charging already in use for various electronic devices such as mobile phones. Drivers simply park over the base pad and charging commences automatically. Plans are to modify the system for use in Formula E so that drivers simply drive over the recharging pads, rather than having to stop and wait for the recharging to take place.

According to information from Qualcomm, a row of charging pads will be installed into the surface of the racetrack. The pads are activated as the car moves over them and the wireless recharging is engaged. The time required for recharging has not been determined.

Formula E races are slated to be held on temporary street circuits, and Qualcomm sources say the pads could be left in place and used by public or private vehicles that are capable of wireless recharging. The Halo system will be used for Formula E's safety cars in the inaugural season.

At this point, it is not clear whether the physical characteristics of the charging pads would render them unsuitable as a racing surface or whether there would be a limit on the speed of the vehicle as it passes over the pads. The recharging process might occur by diverting the car to a "charging lane," with the dynamic process comparable to a conventional pit stop.

"The FIA Formula E Championship is going to become a showcase for electric vehicle technology," said Alejandro Agag, CEO of Championship Promoters Formula E Holdings. "New technologies in connectivity, wireless and mobile, fit perfectly with a championship open to new technology, not only for the cars but for everything around the venue."

The Spark-Renault SRT_01E, which will compete in the electric-racing series, was unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show.

Edmunds says: Development of a charging system to "refuel" the cars will be a big plus for the racing series, and a leap forward in expanded use of electric vehicles for transportation.

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