At the glitzy Magazine London event venue adjacent to the O2 Arena where London hosted the 2012 Olympic gymnastics and basketball competitions, Jaguar revealed the Jaguar Racing TCS I-Type 6, the company’s challenger for the 2023 Formula E racing season.
“We’re engineering our socks off to try and beat the competition,” promised an enthusiastic Phil Charles, Jaguar TCS Racing technical manager.
This season inaugurates the third generation of Formula E specifications, with the cars gaining substantial speed compared to the previous cars. Design News outlined these changes previously, but this was our first in-person look at a real Gen 3 Formula E car.
A key aspect of this new generation is the addition of a 250-kilowatt generator to the front wheels for added regeneration under braking to help recharge the larger battery pack from Williams Advanced Engineering.
The rear Motor Generator Unit now produces 350 kW of power and also regenerates at that same rate, giving the Gen 3 cars 600 kW of total regeneration capacity. That’s enough to provide 40 percent of the power the cars will use during races, as compared to only 25 percent for last season’s Gen 2 cars.
The new cars are also 163 lbs, lighter than before, which further contributes to the new cars’ impressive performance, with a top speed of 200 mph.
Many of the technical components are shared by teams, primarily the cars’ Spark Racing Technologies-supplied carbon fiber monocoque chassis tub. But don’t mistake the Jaguar I-Type 6 for a mere spec car, because the Jaguar Racing TCS team has been able to engineer many of the most important parts that will be unique for their car.
“We’re turning the engineering switch right up to the top of the range,” Charles pledged. “We’re pushing like crazy. You can’t afford to take your foot off the electron pedal because, if you do, someone is going to deal with these new really fun and exciting engineering problems just a bit better than you and you’re going to get beaten,” he said.
To that end, Charles elaborated on the aspects of the I-Type 6 that the team is free to engineer to the maximum of their capability. “There are some big bits that are fixed,” he said, referring to the Spark Racing Technologies carbon fiber tub. “What that does is it focuses people like me on what I consider to be the important bits: the powertrain. So develop all of our efforts into the Motor Generator Unit, the inverter, the gearbox, the driveshafts, the suspension, and the carbon main case that houses all of those components. They’re the really key bits for the racecar.”
Consider the challenge of managing a brake system that not only blends regenerative braking with friction brakes but even eliminates the rear friction brakes entirely, leaving the car even more reliant on regeneration to slow. The increase in regen makes quite a big difference,” said Charles. “We went from 250 kW of regen to 350 kW. It means we no longer when we try to brake the car at a really high rate, need to add hydraulic brakes in the rear to slow the car down. We can do that all with regen.”
This wouldn’t have been possible previously because the second-generation cars started races with their battery packs charged to 100 percent, leaving no capacity to absorb power in the form of regenerative braking until the state of charge is low enough. “Now, with Gen 3, the battery technology has moved to the point where we’ve got a bit of a margin to operate it,” Charles said.
Teams have a free hand designing their cars’ suspension, and Jaguar engineers sought to optimize the I-Type 6’s suspension geometry to maximize the performance capability of the Hankook-supplied racing tires that are new for 2023. “We’ve had a clean sheet of paper in terms of suspension,” Charles said. “So around a new tire, we’ve designed a new suspension to take the best possible usage of that tire into account.”
Charles points to the I-Type 6’s new silicon carbide power inverter technology as an important advance. “On our inverter, we are using Wolfspeed silicon carbide semiconductor devices,” he said. “They do the switching for the inverter. That is a big part of improving the efficiency of the inverter, a really key part of making the car overall more efficient.”
Jaguar Land Rover has employed silicon carbide in its production EV Inverters since 2017, so that relationship paved the way for the company’s contributions to the Jaguar I-Type 6. “I like the idea of a lab on wheels,” said Jay Cameron, Wolfspeed senior vice president, and general manager.
The I-Type 6 can serve as that lab, providing information that will eventually benefit production models, he said. “We’re going to understand together the system-level challenges and drive progress on [the race car]. We’re also going to take those learnings and roll them into future product improvements that we can bring back and complete that circle. I think this idea of a lab on wheels for innovation is going to be a benefit for all of us.”
Tying all of this together is the critical software code that makes the car respond as the drivers want it to. With such a different car for 2023, new code was needed to make it all work. “We’ve had to go back and understand how we map the car,” Charles said.
Thomas Mueller, Jaguar Land Rover's executive director of product engineering, points to software as an area where the race car gained the benefit of the company’s work on production EVs. “How does the brake pedal feel?” he asked. “Do [drivers] feel the right thing under their foot when they are braking? We recover a lot of energy, but we make it in a way that is natural so it doesn’t feel like there are a lot of springs that you are pressing into.”
“The answer to that is software,” Mueller continued. “It is super important for [the drivers] because they need to feel exactly what is happening to the car at high speed. That is an area where there was a lot of exchange [between production engineers and the racing team].”
An important aspect that doesn’t change for the 2023 season is that Jaguar Racing TCS drivers Mitch Evans and Sam Bird return for their third season as a driver pairing, providing some valuable consistency in a season of technical change. They will be assisted in their data collection to help set the cars up for the unique challenges of each race by the joining of British team Envision Racing as a Jaguar customer team. Having two more cars with the same technology sharing information will help Jaguar Racing TCS ensure that its cars are dialed in for the races. The Formula E season opens in Mexico City on January 14, 2023, for the first of 17 races in 12 cities.
Be sure to click through the photo gallery for additional technical detail.