When serial entrepreneur Richard Branson suggested this week that all vehicles will be electricly powered by 2030, he was ridiculed in some quarters. While this may be something of an ambitious target, going from 0.1% of total car sales up to 100% in just 15 years, he does have some knowledge of developments in the industry which the public may not be aware of.
It is worth noting that he was talking at the London ePrix, which is a showcase race for the Formula E calendar. Richard Branson has his own team, DS Virgin Racing, and is well aware of the fact that the new technology being introduced to racing cars will eventually find its way onto the public highways.
Is Formula E really having an impact?
Formula E has now been going since 2014 and while there were a number of false dawns over the years it is continuing to grow in popularity and is attracting enormous investment and a growing number of teams who want to participate. Even from a distance, the fact that Formula E is grabbing vital press headlines is great for the industry as a whole and will make the wider public more aware of electric travel options.
The number of races on the Formula E calendar could become slightly cluttered with an array of countries now desperate to get involved.
If you look at Formula One you will see that much of the technology used over the years on F1 racing cars has often been transferred to the public domain. What we now see as simple things such as regenerative braking systems are more commonplace, but did you know that this technology emerged on the race track?
While Richard Branson’s suggestion that all cars will be electric by 2030 grabbed the headlines, it is also worth noting that he believes ongoing and future technology improvements to Formula E will make a massive difference to the industry. This sport has become something of a test arena for new ideas, new technology, and (most importantly), significant research and development investment. This investment will only grow as time goes on and if all of the positive lessons from F1 can be translated to Formula E, then the introduction of innovative technology should take far less than it did from the F1 test arena.
Is Formula E the finished article?
While there is no doubt that Formula E continues to grow in popularity there is also no doubt that further development and changes will be needed to increase general exposure. Fairly basic areas such as the sound emitted by Formula E racing cars and “refuelling” activities could be “jazzed up” to make the sport more appealing to the wider public. However, it is worth noting that these elements are more cosmetic as opposed to radical changes and more targeted towards giving the general public more enjoyment.
Whether or not Richard Branson is correct with his suggestion that all cars will be electric by 2030 remains to be seen but the more exposure for formula E and electric cars in general the better for the industry going forward. It is easy to forget we have seen some monumental developments in electric car technology in recent times and there is much more to come. The EV market that we see today will be very different next year, in five years, and the following decade will likely be almost unrecognisable. Strap yourself in and get ready for the ride of your life!