New play­ers in the in­dus­try en­joy­ing fresh chances

Motor Sport News - - Engineering Supplement -

The mi­gra­tion of mo­tor­sports to hy­brid, and par­tic­u­larly elec­tric, pow­er­trains rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity for new sup­pli­ers to move into the in­dus­try and break a decades-long stran­gle­hold en­joyed by cur­rent sup­ply chains.

This is the view of Benoit Vareille, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of de­sign, sys­tem in­te­gra­tion and pro­to­type devel­op­ment com­pany Ra­tio­nal Mo­tion.

“For sys­tems such as power elec­tron­ics, I think there is a change hap­pen­ing,” he says. “Peo­ple orig­i­nally looked to the stan­dard motorsport play­ers – the Mag­neti Marel­lis and Mclarens – but now I think the op­po­site is true: sup­pli­ers with, for ex­am­ple, 30 years ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with IGBT [in­su­lated-gate bipo­lar tran­sis­tor] tech­nol­ogy and Sil­i­con Car­bide power mod­ules are be­ing called upon. They don’t know how to pack­age the tech­nol­ogy for motorsport – but they can part­ner with other com­pa­nies that do.”

With a mix of on-road, off-high­way and mo­tor­sports clients, Ra­tio­nal Mo­tion, based in Cologne, works on tra­di­tional and non-tra­di­tional driv­e­train projects. It is heav­ily in­volved with the Nex­tev For­mula E team, pro­vid­ing devel­op­ment and track­side sup­port. Vareille be­lieves that, de­spite the growing in­volve­ment from ma­jor car man­u­fac­tur­ers, For­mula E isn’t likely to be a se­ries that di­rectly pro­vides tech­nol­ogy use­able by the main­stream au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.

“Will the OEMS take some­thing com­ing from FE and put it on the road? I don’t think so. The smaller makes – Mahin­dra, Nex­tev, Fara­day Fu­ture, may take some of the tech­nol­ogy and some of the soft­ware and bring it to pro­to­type level, that would make sense, but for the road? Prob­a­bly not. We don’t work to the same level of safety that we do for road cars. The makes may say oth­er­wise – but they’re say­ing it for mar­ket­ing rea­sons. In this For­mula E is no dif­fer­ent to For­mula 1. There isn’t a di­rect link be­tween F1 tech­nol­ogy and the road. Fer­rari per­haps used their KERS mo­tor on one low vol­ume model – but noth­ing else.”

For­mula E show­cases top elec­tri­cal tech­nolo­gies

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