Lucid Motors unveiled a compact new electric drive unit that incorporates the motor, inverter, differential, and transmission, which will be used on the front axles of this year’s Formula E single-seater race cars. The unit provides regen power under braking, acting as a generator and replenishing the battery.
According to the American EV maker, the front drive unit that was designed and engineered in-house makes up to 469 horsepower, has a maximum rotor speed of 19,500 rpm, and weighs just 70.5 pounds (32 kilograms). The electric unit also benefits from Lucid’s proprietary microjet cooling system, the same as on the company’s road-going Air.
“With incredible power density of 14.7 hp/kg and immense energy recuperation, this drive unit will once again transform electric motorsports, following in the footsteps of our revolutionary battery pack in prior race seasons,” said Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO of Lucid Group. “For Lucid, the transfer of technology between motorsports and road cars is a two-way symbiosis. This new motorsports drive unit builds directly upon the groundbreaking powertrain technology developed in-house by Lucid and proven on the road in every Lucid Air. I’m excited by the prospect that some of the technical advancements introduced may in turn make their way to future Lucid road cars.”
The Formula E front drive units are manufactured to exacting specifications at Lucid’s headquarters in California and then shipped to all the teams involved in the electric motorsport series.
Lucid, which makes the Air sedan, was previously the battery supplier for the 2022 Formula E championship. For this year’s season, the brief for the front drive unit mentioned that it had to be as compact and as lightweight as possible, with a target maximum regeneration of 250 kW.
The Formula E championship started in 2014 and is currently made up of eleven teams with two drivers each, which race on temporary city circuits around the world in all-electric single-seaters. The third generation of the open-wheel racers has an interesting braking system, where the rear axle doesn’t have any hydraulic brakes and relies only on the regenerative power of the rear-mounted motor, while the front axle still has a conventional setup with discs and pads.