Team BMW Formula E

What we’ve learned from Formula E

Apr 3, 2019 - 4min read

We’re 5 races out of 13 through the Formula E season, and it’s been a blast to be a part of!  As well as having fun watching it, we’d like to stop and reflect on why, as a renewable energy supplier, we think this is such a brilliant platform for promoting zero emission transport and innovation in renewable technology - and why we decided to get in on the action too!

Tonik began sponsoring BMW’s Alexander Sims at the start of the 2018/19 season because we recognised that he’s a very different kind of race car driver - one that is as passionate about renewables as he is about high-speed electric vehicles. He sees Formula E as a platform that can demonstrate the full potential of zero emission cars to a global audience, and that’s how we see it too.

Formula E driver Alexander Sims

We went into Formula E with our eyes wide open - fully aware of the capabilities of the technology - but there are still things in this new and evolving sport that have taken us by surprise.

The fans
The most visible - and even tangible - surprise for us has been the sheer excitement and energy of each event. It’s hard to pick an absolute favourite, but ours might have been the fans at Race 4 in Mexico City, where an unprecedented enthusiasm for EV racing filled the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez Stadium with an ‘electric’ atmosphere (shocking pun, we know) generated by thousands of cheering supporters - many of them wearing Mexican Luchador wrestling masks!

Not only that, but they brought their enthusiasm for the race into the Allianz E-Village afterwards, where they eagerly crowded round displays of the latest consumer electric vehicles, shown alongside innovative charging solutions.

The innovation roadmap
In the run up to each competition, we’ve produced a “Green Scout Report” as part of our race preview blog posts (you can see the first one here), with the aim of taking the clean tech temperature of each nation hosting Formula E.

Villanueva Solar PV park in Mexico

Villanueva Solar PV park in Mexico will be able to produce over 1,700 GWh per year once fully operational

We’ve discovered loads of cool projects and heard about a variety of challenges that the hosts are facing, but what’s surprising is how united they are on the direction they’re heading with regards to EV: they’re all firmly set on an electrified future and transport systems underpinned by zero emission vehicles.

Engaging the audience
Formula E is a true innovator in terms of making the races - and the racers - accessible to the public; a crucial strategy in driving the popularity of a series that’s still in its relative infancy.

Whether we’re talking about the choice of Vernon Kay and Nicki Shields as presenters, walking up and down the track and speaking to drivers in the moments just before ‘lights out’, or the novel use of FanBoost to allow viewers to vote for their favourite drivers to receive a surge of speed, Formula E are pushing the envelope with regards to how the audience can interact with and experience the sport.

Drivers even have the time and opportunity to showcase their own interests, for example when Alexander Sims was able to visit a recycling plant prior to the Hong Kong ePrix, or talking to BMW Motorsport’s head of design about the technology under the hood of the team’s zero emissions vehicles.

There’s even a Formula E spin-off already - Extreme E - showcasing the performance of electric SUVs in harsh, rough terrains; satisfying the growing public hunger for zero emissions motorsports!

What’s next?
Besides more races from Alexander, more in-depth Formula E blogs from us, and our Head of Products, Steve Springett, heading to the Berlin ePrix in May with Thomas Newby, MD of our sister company The Phoenix works - apart from all that, the next stage of our journey is helping spread the word of renewable energy and zero emissions vehicles with Alexander as our Tonik Brand ambassador.

That means heading to the electric vehicle and clean energy exhibition, Fully Charged Live, at Silverstone where we’ll be showcasing the latest EV charging technology and the green energy we power it with. It means Tonik renovating Alexander’s barn with renewable technology - we’re talking EV chargers (obviously!), but also a Ground Source Heat Pump to provide renewable warmth. And it means working with Alexander’s expertise to produce information that makes buying, using and charging your EV as simple and fun as possible.

Finally, Formula E is coming home next year with the London ePrix; a first-of-its-kind race that is both indoors and outdoors - something that is only made possible through the use of zero emissions vehicles!

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