Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Electric mobility is slowly yet surely establishing itself as the de facto standard of future mobility, with countries around the world looking to decarbonize and many (including India) committing to go completely green on the mobility front. Whether the solution lies in hybrids, pure electric vehicles, or something else entirely radical like hydrogen powered cars, the clock seems to be surely ticking on traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.

Bevin Jacob, Partner and Co-Founder – Automobility, offered his thoughts when speaking to us earlier, saying “We have seen how Tesla has triggered mass commercialization, and traditional companies are deploying massive capital towards e-mobility. We believe that EV technology will commercialize even faster, with tech scaling more efficiently, pulled ahead by the shared services economy.”

He further highlighted the evolution over the years, and what it means for the future, saying, “Looking at the evolution of the automotive industry, right from horse-drawn carriages, to Internal Combustion Engines, to industrial automobiles, you can see that the consumption of energy is directly linked to the evolution of technology. With the modern automobile, we are seeing a diversification of energy utilization. This has led to the advancements of internet based connected vehicles, and we can see that there is a big difference between the traditional companies, and their market capitalization, versus the market cap of newer companies, which will exponentially grow.”

One of the more exciting applications of this, when seen through the lens of an enthusiast, is that of motorsport. Formula 1 is seen as the pinnacle of motorsport, with manufacturers and teams not just vying to be the leader of the pack on track, but to lead the way by applying the lessons learnt from racing into our everyday cars. Now, imagine the same adrenaline, controlled risk and speed… without fossil fuels. That’s what new-age motorsports like Formula E promise; the thrill and emotion of racing, with the promise of efficiency and innovation that will then trickle down to the cars we own and drive.

Dilbagh Gill, CEO & Team Principal – Mahindra Racing, certainly believes in the greater purpose underlying Formula E. Balancing emotive and electric is a challenge, but one that he is passionate about. “In motorsport, we are defined by our stopwatch. That’s why motorsport will always be forward thinking, a hotbed of innovation, because you’re always trying to save tenths of a second. Formula E is the first sport in the world which has a net zero carbon footprint. So while we go racing, we are also talking about sustainability, we are talking about other environmental issues, we are talking about other topics that are very relevant today. We are basically racing with a purpose, and the whole purpose is ‘change accelerated’.”

“Countries like India are at a very early stage of Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption, and the glamour and pizzazz of racing will certainly not just help improve its appeal with consumers, but speed up adoption and the infrastructure required to enable.” Gill continued, “Our motorsport is helping accelerate EV adoption along the way, which is very relevant and very important. And if you look at the next decade, from 2020 to 2030, it is going to be something that is massively relevant to India. Mahindra Racing is the testbed for all those technologies.”

“There is a general view around motorsport right now that is largely pessimistic, with all these seismic changes happening in the industry right now. We had Dieselgate a couple of years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic this year, racing has gone on without fans, without people around. Motorsport has been disrupted. But at the same time, I think there is a lot of optimism also that motorsport is going to continue to be relevant in the future. From a manufacturer’s perspective, I still think motorsport is a perfect showcase of technology, innovation, and endurability. And at the end of the day, it’s so important for us to accelerate development because I don’t think we’ve reached a stage where people are looking at cars as a commodity. People still have an emotional connection to a car, it’s not like a loaf of bread. People might reach there 20-30 years from now. But right now, I still feel there’s an emotional attachment to a car, and that comes through the passion that is shown with motorsport. The cars are different, they are doing things that excite you, keeps you at the edge of your seat.”

It is clear that motorsport will continue to be a development ground for many years to come, providing valuable data to manufacturers, and hopefully some benefits, and racing excitement, to fans around the world. It is little wonder that manufacturers as storied as Porsche, Mercedes, Jaguar, and Volkswagen, to name but a few, are throwing their weight behind this, and we cannot wait to see the fruits of their collective efforts.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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