New players in the industry enjoying fresh chances
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.”