Electric Cars

Formula E's new race car ditches the battery swap

With more tech and a new look, the next Formula E car is ready to be taken seriously.

Formula E

The first generation of all-electric FIA Formula E race cars didn't make a huge splash, but the second generation wants to remedy that.

Formula E unveiled its second-generation race car this week ahead of an official debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show on March 6. The car not only sports a new look, but it's packed with new tech that should make the race safer for drivers while also making it more exciting for spectators.

The halo doesn't look awful in this case, which is... not what I said when it debuted on Formula 1 cars last year.

Formula E

Those two things might sound irreconcilable, but they aren't. The major safety update comes by way of the "halo" -- a structure that surrounds the upper half of the cockpit and is meant to boost safety for drivers' heads. This bit of safety tech also has the unwelcome side effect of making cars look like flip-flops. Formula 1 tested a similar piece last year, and reactions were mixed.

In previous seasons, Formula E required a car swap halfway through the race to accommodate a limited battery capacity. This new car has twice the energy capacity, which doubles its range, which means midrace swaps are a thing of the past. The FIA also claims that new benefits in motor tech will give the cars a bit more speed, too.

Compared with the first-generation car, this one looks way more futuristic. Aggressive aerodynamic lines merge and diverge all over the body, and the winglets out back remind me of the Ferrari FXX. It's a good look that further differentiates it from other open-wheel race cars, like Formula 1 and IndyCar racers.

The FIA, which oversees Formula E, created this new car with the help of designers and engineers the world over. Specifications will be sent to individual teams, which will outfit each car with a power train designed in-house. Full chassis specs will be made available at the car's debut in Geneva next month. This body will stay in use for the next three race seasons.