The latest episode of ABB’s technology-focused podcast features Alejandro Agag, the man widely credited with being the driving force behind the creation of the world’s first single-seater all-electric racing series: ABB Formula E.
The Founder of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship started his career in politics, before becoming a motorsport entrepreneur, and he remains a passionate advocate of e-mobility and the climate benefits that can be achieved via progress in sustainable technology. Now in his role as Chairman of the Championship, of which ABB has been title partner since 2018, Agag plays a pivotal role in driving the business forwards in its mission for a better, cleaner future and has many fresh ideas on how to achieve that.
“When I look back and see where we are today, it’s really far beyond what we expected. It has by far exceeded my expectations in terms of the technology and the impact it has had. I think for us, the timing was right and the idea was right, and that’s why we’re still here. If you were going to promote electric cars 20 or 30 years ago, this championship would have died after a few months. But we came in at the right time, just before the big wave of electrification of the motor industry, but it was already brewing.
“We had so many times where it was really tough, and the first years were a lot more unstable but now we have a lot more stability and have capacity to plan for the future. There is a lot of space to cover, more room to grow and many priorities that we have to keep pushing especially on the reach and impact of the championship.
“But we have to be super happy with where we are. I don’t think any other championship in the world after seven seasons was in a place where the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is today.”
Pushing the boundaries of technology
Recently, at the Monaco E-Prix, the next generation of Formula E race car – the Gen3 – was unveiled, showcasing the pinnacle of high-performance and sustainability in EV technology.
“I think you always tell the story about motorsport being a laboratory to develop technology, but you need those moments, like the Gen3 launch, to really understand that it’s true, that you are really achieving technology breakthroughs. If you compare Gen3 to Gen1, it’s a completely different galaxy of car. The Gen1 couldn’t even finish the whole race and it had 150 kWs of power. This car is going to have 350 kWs. The leap forward in power is huge and the weight is less. The progress in the technology that we’ve achieved in only a few years is incredible. So yes, this confirms that the ABB Formula E championship is a laboratory – it’s a platform to develop technology for electric cars, and we really deliver.”
And Formula E is already looking ahead to Gen4, after the championship organizers and teams met to discuss their plans at the Monaco E-Prix.
“I think Gen3 has been a huge step, but it’s still not perfect. I think Gen4 will be a massive leap in performance and we will start looking at things that we haven’t looked at until now. The kind of general possibilities we could look at could be, for example, something around the battery or allowing some kind of freedom with the look of the car without going into aerodynamics. I think Gen4 is the step before becoming the fastest race cars in the world and that Gen5 will beat the internal combustion engine cars.”
“I think the championship definitely has had an effect on the landscape of mobility – we have it; people can see it; people can watch it. And that’s in the back of the consumer’s mind when going to buy a car and making a choice between a car that is electric or internal combustion. This championship has a huge potential to keep promoting e-mobility and we can achieve a lot more.”
Powered by passion
“My passion, actually, which not many people know, is writing. if I had to do something else, I would probably go and write science-fiction books. If you look at science-fiction from the ’50s and the ’60s, many of the things that are in those books are reality today. In science-fiction, there are so many interesting ideas and lessons that are applicable now.”
So, does Alejandro feel science-fiction is to thank for what he’s achieved with Formula E?
“Probably, because science-fiction helps you think out of the box. So you don’t stay in the limits of reality, but with the science-fiction you can go outside the reality and then try things that are not, you know, in the normal day to day.”
The release of this episode of ABB Decoded comes the day before the Jakarta E-Prix – the first race for the championship in Indonesia. The 22 drivers will compete on a purpose-built 2.37 km circuit, set against the backdrop of Jakarta Bay. With 18 turns and a long, fast, start/finish straight, the track is designed to pull together the best elements of street racing.
To find out more about ABB click here