An accelerated transition to zero-emission vehicles requires the ambition of stakeholders across the entire transportation value chain. The ZEV Declaration brings together these unique sectors to support collective action, however there’s one company that’s racing quicker than the rest, and at first glance, might seem like an untraditional part of the formula.

Envision Racing, an electric vehicle motorsport team based in the United Kingdom, won its first team championship last year, has no plans of slowing down. The Accelerating to Zero Coalition had the pleasure of chatting with Sylvain Filippi, managing director and chief technology officer at Envision Racing, to discuss the world of electric vehicle racing, the importance of the Formula E platform, and the fascinating innovations that are propelling zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) into the spotlight.

Q: Could you start by giving us a quick overview of Formula E and Envision Racing?

Sylvain: Absolutely! Formula E was formed in 2012 and Envision Racing joined the ranks in 2013, remarkably taking to the streets of Beijing for our first race just six months later. Over the course of nine seasons, we’ve not only become a vital part of the electric racing landscape but also clinched the championship last year.

Envision Racing has two primary pillars: The first is to accelerate the innovation of electric vehicle technology. While we don’t manufacture end-user vehicles, we touch everything else, contributing to the overall electrification of mobility solutions. Today, we’ve reached world championship status, which lends tremendous credibility to our mission. We travel the globe, using our platform to spread the message and impact.

Our second pillar is our media platform, where we aim to make electric cars exciting and relatable to the everyday consumer. Essentially, we’re creating a performance around EVs, and it’s worked wonders for shifting public perception. We’re now the fourth largest motorsport in the world, with an audience of over 220 million people – which is absolutely something to be proud of.

We use this platform to promote Envision’s other endeavors, such as wind turbines, batteries, and more. The goal is to get people excited about a future world where EVs are the norm. The health benefits and positive impact on the environment from a switch to EVs are enormous, and by reaching bigger and bigger audiences at our events, we serve as a megaphone for the voices of those working towards a greener world.

Q: With technological advancements and innovations in EV technology championed by Formula E, how is Envision Racing positioned to influence and accelerate the development of ZEVs for everyday consumers?

Sylvain: OEMs (original equipment manufacturers, aka automotive manufacturers) are already involved in racing, and it’s a symbiotic relationship. Formula E provides a real-world testing ground for electric vehicle technology. After every race, we gather a wealth of data, essentially creating a mobile laboratory through our vehicles. Our races feature different motors, and we’ve seen companies like Jaguar use insights from Formula E to improve their consumer EVs, increasing efficiency by as much as 20%. There’s truly no better way to push the boundaries of electric vehicle technology.

Q: Formula E is known for its street circuits in major cities. How does this unique format contribute to raising awareness about electric mobility and urban sustainability?

Sylvain: It’s true; Formula E is unique in that we race on street circuits in major cities. While Formula One uses permanent tracks, we’ve decided to bring electric racing to urban centers. Our calendar changes each year, attracting approximately 40,000 people on race weekends, allowing them to get up close to the cars. These races draw a diverse audience, including many young people, students, and families. It provides them with an opportunity to witness these incredible vehicles in action.

When we first started, teams needed two vehicles to complete a one hour and forty-five minute race, but two years later our technology had advanced so much that we only needed one car. The fans witnessed this incredible rate of progress, and it’s only grown from there.

When in these cities, we meet with local governments, investors, and other stakeholders, facilitating conversations that can eventually influence consumers’ decisions. The impact is tangible, and our drivers have a significant influence on the way people perceive electric mobility.

Q: The upcoming COP28 provides a global platform for climate discussions. How do you plan to leverage this opportunity to advocate for ZEVs and sustainable mobility, and how will Envision Racing participate in the larger discussion?

Sylvain: We’re incredibly excited about the upcoming COP28 in Dubai. It provides a global platform for discussions on climate change, and as an electric racing team, we intend to make our presence felt. We see it as a massive opportunity to present our vehicles, and our sport, as a catalyst for change.

We’ll be showcasing innovations and technologies that excite us the most. For instance, we’re featuring an electric waste vehicle prominently in the Blue Zone. Leaders and global policymakers will walk past and the car serves as a conversation starter to discuss e-mobility. Our driver, Alice Powell, will also be in attendance to offer a first-hand perspective on driving and maneuvering electric vehicles.

Q: How can organizations like the Accelerating to Zero Coalition serve to support organizations like Envision Racing in championing the further adoption and value of ZEVs?

Sylvain: It’s crucial that organizations like A2Z continue to foster cross-industry collaborations. The future of sustainable mobility and the adoption of ZEVs require cooperation from a wide range of industries. Formula E attracts a diverse array of people and companies, and it takes various skills, including big data, to make it all work. Collaboration is the key. By participating in races, events, and initiatives like COP28, we can expand the bubble of people and companies involved in promoting ZEVs. The more we collaborate, the more we can drive innovation and adoption.

Pictured Above: Envision Racing’s Formula E car made entirely from discarded tech.