With the Black Book Motorsport Forum growing on the horizon we asked some key personnel at this year's event for a small preview of the kind of insight delegates can expect at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London on 21st August.
In the first of our Q&A Series ahead of the event, Sébastien de Chaunac, ABB's head brand activation with Formula E, offers his thoughts on some key issues for the electric motor racing series.
What noticeable differences have ABB brought to Formula E?
As a leading global provider of e-mobility solutions, ABB covers the whole range of charging technologies for electric cars and electric and hybrid buses. The company entered the market for electric-vehicle charging stations in 2010. Since then, ABB has installed more than 7,000 charging stations in 60 countries, and the number is steadily growing. This makes ABB the ideal technological partner for Formula E.
In terms of technology, the race series offers ABB a competitive platform for the development and testing of electrification and digitalisation technologies which are crucial for e-mobility. Technology from ABB could help to improve the design and functionality of electric vehicles, accelerate the development of the infrastructure and the associated digital platforms. Thanks to the digital capabilities of the ABB Ability offering, ABB fast chargers are connected in networks that can be linked to electronic payment systems and can enable remote monitoring and maintenance from central control centers.
ABB will work on innovations relating to both vehicles and infrastructure and use Formula E as a platform to test these technologies. The company is further developing the technological platform in bundling the application of sustainable energy solutions and e-mobility and making it future-proof.
For a technology company like ABB, how crucial is it that you are seen to be focusing on a part of the industry that is looking to protect the environment?
The ABB Formula E Championship is a natural fit between two pioneers at the forefront of the latest technologies for electrification and digitalisation. The partnership perfectly supports ABB’s commitment to running the world without consuming the earth as it brings electrifying wheel-to-wheel action directly to cities around the world with the minimum impact on the environment and the host city. It is one of the most exciting developments in sustainable transport and sport today, providing a unique opportunity to promote e-mobility with the purpose of changing perceptions of electric vehicles and new technologies for cleaner mobility.
How important is it for the future of the Formula E product that the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Nissan have signed up for the competition from next year?
The fact that more well-known manufacturers will enter the competition in the next two seasons proves how much the ABB FIA Formula E Championship serves and will continue to serve as a competitive platform to develop and test e-mobility-relevant electrification technologies, helping refine the design and functionality of electric vehicles and infrastructure as well as the associated digital platforms. It is clear that electricity will become the dominant form of energy in the future. This is especially true for mobility, which today is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The ABB FIA Formula E Championship is the fastest-growing motorsport in terms of popularity – especially among digital audiences – and it brings electrifying wheel-to-wheel action directly to the cities around the world with a much smaller environmental footprint.
What kind of sponsorship innovations can electric car racing offer that its rivals can’t?
As a global motorsport series which races in some of the world’s famous cities, Formula E makes the technologies behind and around it visible, exciting and inspirational. By bringing the races into cities, it demonstrates the potential of e-mobility in urban environments to a wide audience. That in turn enables a broad discussion about sustainable transport in general as well as sustainable energy solutions for the urban environment – buildings, factories and other infrastructure. Ultimately, that should drive the development and implementation of sustainable solutions for the future. ABB and Formula E have joined forces to shape the future of e-mobility and to push the boundaries to new limits.
ABB will be looking at the possibility of incorporating ABB technology into the series: our company is the world leader in electric-vehicle charging solutions, with the largest installed base of fast-charging stations worldwide. ABB Formula E serves as a competitive platform to test and develop e-mobility-relevant electrification and digitalization technologies.
The ABB Formula E is also the only series in the world that lets fans play an active role in influencing the outcome of the race. Fanboost gives fans the opportunity to vote for their favorite driver and award them an extra boost of power during the race. The three drivers with the most Fanboost votes are awarded a significant burst of power, which they can deploy in a five second window during the second half of the race.
Why is it important to be future-facing when it comes to commercial partnerships?
Being future-facing enables any sponsor to embrace the latest technology when it comes to communicating with employees, customers and the general public. The variety of channels allows reach to both a wider audience and to target any message more precisely thanks to tools such as data management and monitoring. ABB Formula E is an excellent opportunity to showcase our pioneering solutions in e-mobility in an exciting and inspiring way. ABB and Formula E will write the next phase of this exciting sports activity and foster high-performance teams.