Market Insights

ABB EMS Driving EV Formula E Racing

February 20, 2023 by Kevin Clemens

The worldwide electric racing series uses ABB energy management software to help reduce carbon emissions from the racing series and beyond. 

One of motorsport’s ironies is that the energy it takes to power a racing vehicle pales compared to the fuel consumed in the rest of the event. Building a racetrack, providing electric power for lighting and services, the fuel needed for support vehicles and racecar transporters, the power that is used for television coverage, and most significantly, the fuel used by spectators who attend the event are a much larger consideration than the energy produced by the relatively small amount of gasoline (or in the case of the all-electric Formula E, electricity) expended on the track. Until now, it has been difficult to quantify the energy used during a race weekend. 


Formula E racing. Image used courtesy of ABB

Formula E racing. Image used courtesy of ABB


Formula E and Electric Vehicles

This year marks the 9th season of the electric Formula E racing series. Formula E was created to demonstrate the viability of electric vehicles (EVs) in auto racing. The series races on temporary street circuits that are put together in major worldwide capital cities like Berlin, London, and New York. The single-seat racers use a standardized chassis and battery pack, and major automakers like Jaguar, Nissan, Maserati, and Porsche sponsor teams at each event. 


ABB Optimax Energy Management Software

New for this season, series sponsor ABB will integrate its Ability Optimax software as a part of the Formula E championship. The Optimax energy management system (EMS) has been used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for electric power plants and has been particularly useful in developing green hydrogen facilities. For the ABB Formula E World Championship, the Optimax system will be used to optimize the energy efficiency of on-track operations. 


Optimax. Image used courtesy of ABB

Optimax. Image used courtesy of ABB


From a racing perspective, the ABB system will allow the driver and race engineer to carefully monitor the actual energy output of the vehicle’s batteries during the race, allowing more efficient use of the available energy. ABB is also the official charging partner for the Formula E series and uses its on-track experiences to better prepare for a future world of electrified transportation. 

That’s not the only use for Optimax in Formula E, however. With up to 14 metering boxes located around the racing venue, data is collected on how much electrical power is used by the racing teams, the support services, and the racing partner organizations, as well as for activities such as television broadcasting, fan zone activities, catering, the media center, and individual team garages and racing pits. This way, the total energy consumption for the entire event can be monitored and optimized to reduce overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions


Unique Power Challenges

Because the temporary street racing circuits used by Formula E have various electrical power sources, it can be challenging to determine how much power is being used at which venue around the circuit. Optimax provides a central dashboard that allows race organizers to quickly see where all the power is coming from and allows more efficient energy consumption, regardless of the power source. 

The ABB Formula E World Championship's 9th season is already underway, with the first race in Mexico City in January.  The season calendar for the series will comprise 16 races in 11 different locations worldwide. This year the new host cities will include Hyderabad, Cape Town, São Paulo, and Portland.