Formula E — racing towards a sustainable future

Formula E is all about breaking new ground — from being the first electric vehicle car race to building inner-city circuits across the world. Their logistical needs require as much innovation as the championship itself and as their logistical partner, we share their aims of looking towards creating a more sustainable future.

To discuss their sustainability efforts in greater detail we spoke with Julia Pallé, Senior Sustainability Consultant for Formula E.

Why did DHL and Formula E work so well together as partners?

Julia: DHL was one of the very first partners to join Formula E, which provided a very strong angle and commitment to the race. Formula E is designed with a region by region approach. We really try to optimize not only the budget but also reduce potential greenhouse gas emissions that could be generated if you don’t take this very efficient approach. DHL has acted as both a logistics partner and a sustainability expert for us.

What is the difference between Formula E and other motor sporting events?

Julia: Formula E is disruptive because we race using electric vehicles and also, the place that we race is not a traditional track, it’s a temporary circuit that we build inside a city. We are bringing the race onto the streets where people usually drive their own cars. That’s a completely different model in comparison to other motorsport series.

Why did you have to build your own track?

Julia: The whole point of Formula E is to really help change the general public’s perception of electric vehicles. It’s very important for us to be in the city and race on the streets so that people can see the cars for themselves and that driving an electric vehicle is safe.

You talked earlier about perception, why is it so important that electric cars get an image refresh and social acceptance?

Julia: It’s very important because we need to completely change the way we are using and perceive transportation today. One solution is electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are beneficial; both in terms of health and well-being but also, in terms of air quality and pollution.

Most people don’t realize that air pollution is highly dangerous for our health and the environment. Electric vehicles are one solution that an individual can use to address this. By choosing electric vehicles, we can start to imagine the future of an economy going electric.

Logistically speaking, what does creating a track within a city require from DHL?

Formula E Paris E-Prix 2018

Julia: First of all, we need to transport a huge, temporary infrastructure around the world, which in terms of logistics, is quite a complex task. From sending the parts, addressing security elements to managing and finding the space in a city for the circuit. I think back to some of the most iconic races, like Paris; where the cars were racing in front of Les Invalides, right in the heart of the city. It was absolutely amazing to witness the racing circuit being built in just a couple of weeks, only for the city to return back to normal afterward.

How do you keep up with the latest electric vehicle technology and innovations and make sure that everyone’s competing at the same baseline?

Julia: We have very strict sporting and technical regulations that are built in accordance with the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), which is the governing body of Formula E and other motorsports series. There’s a mindset in the championship ensuring we’re really strict on these regulations so that we can advance in technology and innovation. It’s not only about the Formula E competition; it’s about ensuring that the technology from the race can translate into everyday passenger cars.

Aligning with DHL, who has the 2050 goal in lowering their logistics emissions to 0%, is this another reason why the partnership made sense because there’s obviously such a sustainability lens through which the Formula E was created?

Julia: It’s very important to be working with DHL and to get their support and proactive commitment to sustainability. We are definitely making the most out of our partnership and everyday experiences with DHL in regards to sustainability whilst aligning the efforts of the Formula E championship.

About the future of motorsports, particularly for Formula E, what is its future?

Julia: It’ll definitely be an efficient factor. For example, a more efficient battery that lasts longer which enables longer races. The fact that, now, we also have such an interesting team aligned with the car manufacturers, it makes us stronger in terms of technology. Especially having Nissan, Mercedes, Porsche, and so on — the competition is going to be very tense and I’m sure the technological improvements are not only for the battery itself but for the whole vehicle, to be improved to benefit passenger cars as well.