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Formula E Spark Renault electric car makes its UK debut

Formula E, the first FIA-sanctioned electric racing series, introduced its Spark Renault car to the UK for the first time today

Who says you need a thirsty engine to go fast? The Spark Renault seen here might look like a Formula One racer, but it’s actually a zero emissions electric car set to take part in the inaugural Formula E championship next year. It was on show in the UK for the first time this morning and we were there to get an early first look.

Formula E is the first FIA-sanctioned global electric racing series, which has lofty ambitions to transform the world of Motorsport with an environmentally friendly 10-race championship that will kick off in September 2014 taking in Los Angeles and Miami in the USA, Punta Del Este and Buinos Aires in South America, London, Berlin and Monte Carlo in Europe, and Beijing, Hong Kong and Putrajaya in the Far East.

Formula E Spark Renault

The car itself uses a custom-built carbon and aluminium honeycomb chassis that fully complies with FIA safety regulations, along with F1 spec brakes. The 18in tyres were designed and manufactured specifically for Formula E by Michelin, and are usable in both wet and dry conditions. Drivers won’t be permitted to change tyres during the race, in an effort to reduce running costs, so the tyres have to last an entire Grand Prix.

Formula E Spark Renault

The Spark Renault has a 200kw electric powertrain, which equates to roughly 270bhp from a combustion engine. This will be unlimited during practice and qualifying, but limited to 133kw in race mode, which is roughly 180bhp. Drivers will have a “push to pass” button which adds a further 67kw to allow for KERS-like tactical overtaking.

Formula E Spark Renault

A second traction battery acts as a Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) to supply electric energy to the traction battery. With a 0-62mph speed of around three seconds and an FIA-limited top speed of 225km/h, it should be every bit as adrenaline-pumping as a Formula One car.

Beyond the electric engine, the other major difference between Formula One and Formula E will be sound. Whereas F1 cars at full throttle can push past 147 decibels, louder than most gunshots, an FE racer will hit
80db – only 10db louder than the average petrol road car. However, at speed, the aerodynamic chassis should make a similar sound to a jet plane as it carves through the air.

We’ve yet to see the car in action – it will be undergoing driver testing tomorrow at a secret location, but based on what we’ve seen Formula E is off to a flying start. We’ll be exploring the championship in more depth shortly, but next September can’t come soon enough.

make sure to click through to the gallery to see even more shots of the Spark Renault

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