Three-way partnership for Formula E battery supply

Having announced in September that McLaren Applied Technologies would be the exclusive battery supplier for the FIA Formula E Championship from the 2018/19 season, it has now become clear two additional parties will be involved in the deal.

Car and Driver have reported that both Sony and Tesla-rival Lucid will play a key role in the development of the underlying technologies within the next generation of Formula E batteries.

Under the three-way partnership, Lucid will design and construct the battery and battery management software, with Sony supplying the cylindrical energy storage cells, while McLaren Applied Technologies will manage the logistics and track-side support.

Lucid will therefore be tasked with delivering the first Formula E battery capable of running a full race, without the current requirement for a car-swap. The next generation of batteries will also need to meet the requirement to be fully charged in 45 minutes or less, as teams will not be able to rotate charging – a process used at present with the current four-car per team structure.

The announcement comes as Lucid, formerly known as Atieva, launches a new premium electric sedan which boasts a 300-mile range and 20% grater energy density in its batteries than its competitors, due to its cooling and power-control technologies.

Lucid is reported to have won the FIA contract thanks to its ability to apply data science to ensure that the new battery packs will be able to withstand the punishment that they will receive under race conditions.

Albert Liu, Director of Battery Technology at Lucid, commented: “People don’t often associate data science with car companies, but we have a team of data scientists who gather battery and powertrain data to really do a deep dive, to do this analysis and prevent failures from happening, while optimising performance.”

“Batteries are very complex devices, and to have that data from out in the field is a gold mine.”

It is clear that the alignment with Formula E is well-timed to push to demonstrate how its technical expertise on track will translate into its road cars, as it aims to take on the EV giant that is Tesla.

The big test for the next generation batteries, and the three-way technology partnership, will be the FIA-required crash test scheduled for June 2017.

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