James Barclay, Team Director of the Jaguar Racing Formula E Team, about how lessons from elite racing are being applied to help achieve mainstream EV adoption, and how Jaguar’s long-term partnership with Castrol is driving progress
EV adoption relies on innovation, James tells us: “It’s working to get this technology as small and light as you can. With EVs, there’s a lot of focus on the battery, but the efficiency of your powertrain is also really important. Racing allows us to really stress test the technology, pushing the limits and then passing the benefits on to consumers. We have engineers from the core Jaguar Land Rover engineering team embedded in the race team, so they can take learnings back with them.”
Castrol’s partnership with the Jaguar Racing Formula E Team, which builds on a long and successful motorsport collaboration between the two brands, is also all about taking lessons from the racetrack and applying them to the road. Putting e-Fluids to the test on the racetrack helps Castrol to deliver what drivers want: to go further on a single charge by enabling better efficiency throughout the powertrain.
James explains the collaborative process: “The Castrol engineers work with us to overcome challenges and to find performance gains. We’re looking at optimising weight, performance, efficiency, and thermal management. As well as the big gains, we’re always looking for incremental improvements – marginal gains are key in a sport measured in thousandths of a second.” James explains: “That can be the difference between winning and losing a race. From e-Fluids that improve efficiency and reduce rolling resistance, to e-Thermal fluids and e-Transmission fluids that keep the powertrain operating at an optimum level, we use racing as a test-bed for Castrol’s products.”
The pace of progress in Formula E is phenomenal. During the first generation of Formula E (2014-2018), the cars had to be swapped mid-race. The second-generation cars have double the energy storage capacity, meaning that with a similar size battery, a single car can complete a whole race. They’re faster, too: with 250kW of power, they can accelerate from 0-100km an hour in 2.8-seconds and reach a top speed of 280km per hour.
Products developed for motorsport power electronics can enhance the performance of even the most advanced EVs on the road. Advanced e-transmission fluids, for example, enable better performance of the vehicle due to the ability to cool and reduce friction losses. This is more critical as vehicles become increasingly sophisticated and ultra-fast charging grows: e-transmission fluid can extend the life of the powertrain systems and enable the electronic components to work efficiently under extreme conditions.
Meanwhile, greases play a vital role in protecting motor components so that they last longer and perform as efficiently as possible, which ultimately reduces the energy needed to drive the car forward, taking strain off the battery and helping maximise the range capability.
From seat fabric to space dust, a whole range of other cutting-edge technology gets a test drive on the racetrack too such as TYPEFIBRE. The Jaguar I-TYPE 5 has a new prototype race seat made from sustainably sourced TYPEFIBRE. It will be tested at speed in different temperatures, loads and environments around the world as part of the team’s Race to Innovate mission – sharing the benefits of race technology with road cars and in turn Jaguar customers: “New, more sustainable fibres are being trialed for interior fabrics. If they pass the test and are durable enough then they may end up in road cars of the future too. And there is a lot of work underway to improve motors and inverters. Silicon carbide - ‘cosmic dust’ - allows faster switching speeds in the inverter and we’re also working on more efficient regenerative braking technology. This is all being used in Formula E but has the potential to filter through to mainstream electric vehicles.”
For James, EV innovation and adoption comes down to a combination of advances in both EV technology and infrastructure: “The continued development of EV powertrain tech will be key, but also critical is the overall infrastructure that supports both the adoption and convenience of EVs. And then once you reach a tipping point, you start to get economies of scale meaning that the price of EVs comes down and the choice of vehicles increases.”
“A big part of EVs becoming mainstream is consumer education,” James believes: “As awareness increases, people realise that the offering provided by EVs is already very compelling. EVs would suit a lot of consumers right now; people are generally taking short journeys, and in many cases don’t need the longer range that they think they do.” Castrol’s Accelerating the EVolution study found that this was the case: 60% of drivers are mainly using their car for commuting or local trips like shopping and the school run.
Changing perceptions around EVs is woven into the DNA of Formula E. James adds: “Formula E helps show the journey that we’re on in a really exciting, engaging way through a great sport. The World Championship educates consumers on the benefits of EVs and we race in urban areas, making this the most accessible motorsport and demonstrating the benefits of zero-emissions in city centres.”
Formula E is the first sport with certified net zero carbon footprint from inception and Jaguar’s participation is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Reimagine’ strategy, with Jaguar transitioning to an electric-first business. Castrol’s partnership with Jaguar Racing is part of Castrol’s wider ambition to play a key role in the mobility revolution and the pathway to decarbonising transport. “The importance of sustainability is close to everyone’s heart right now,” James says. He believes that the future of mainstream EVs is bright: “If we look at the EV landscape over the next few years, consumer choice is incredibly different from where we were five years ago. It is very exciting. And with Formula E we’re really driving the change, in a way that is hugely impactful.”