Charging is typically one of the least thrilling aspects of driving an EV, but the FIA believes it can improve these pauses. Formula E will test a 30-second “Attack Charge” at some races in the ninth season as part of new regulations. Thanks to a 600kW booster, new battery technology will provide cars with 4kWh of energy from a half-minute session. The charging stop will be necessary at a certain time in the race, but drivers will be compensated with two “increased” Attack Mode intervals later in the race.
The quick charge is tied to the Gen3 cars making their debut in the new season. The current Attack Mode, where drivers can activate a momentary power boost, will still be available in those races where Attack Charge isn’t in use. The modified Attack Mode isn’t what was originally planned. According to The Race, the FIA had originally hoped to revive pit stops, but the necessary system wasn’t ready in time. Those more conventional stops are expected to come, but not for a while yet.
The upcoming season also makes fundamental changes to the league’s competitive format. Races now take place over a set number of laps, rather than a fixed amount of time. If there are safety car and full course yellow disruptions, organizers will add more laps. Teams will also have to complete a minimum of two Free Practice 1 sessions with rookie drivers to help them experience Formula E. And don’t expect to play a role in your favorite driver’s victory — the spectator-driven Fanboost is going away.
Season nine and Gen3 will launch in Mexico City this January. It’s too soon to say if Attack Charge will spice up races in real-world conditions. However, it might point to the future of roadgoing EVs. Even the fastest-charging street models take at least a few minutes to get a meaningful amount of range from a charging session. Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 needs five minutes on a 350kW charger for 53 miles of driving, for instance. While 600kW chargers won’t become mainstream for a while (Geely’s Viridi brand only unveiled its tech this September), Formula E’s testing hints at a day when your EV might only need a brief stop to recover enough range for a long drive.