In September 2014, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E will usher in a new era in motorsports. It will be the featured vehicle in the new Formula E Championship, an all-electric open wheel race series. Ten competing teams will all use variations of this car.
It debuted last week at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and is a collaboration between some of the biggest names in the Formula One business, such as Spark Racing, Renault and McLaren. The partnership will create the first 40 of this single-seat, zero-emission race car.
"We were enthusiastic about this project right from the start, because it gave us a chance to explore new paths," said Francois Champod, motorsport technical director at Renault Sport Technologies and Formula E coordinator. "No one has ever designed an electric single-seater with this kind of performance, manufactured in short production runs and developed according to a tight deadline."
The car has been aerodynamically designed to aid in overtaking, and its monocoque chassis was constructed by Italian firm Dallara. The Williams F1 team has designed the battery, which weighs about 440 pounds and provides 200 kilowatts of power, the equivalent of 270 horsepower.
How does it perform? Renault officials say the SRT_01E will reach 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds, and achieve a peak speed of 140 mph. Each car can last for 25 minutes, so to meet the hour-long length of each race, each team will run two cars, each with its own driver.
Only 10 months in development, the car will be used by all 10 teams for the first season. For 2015 and beyond, Formula E is encouraging manufacturers to build their own variations of the car, per set standards.
The first race will be held in September 2014 and the 10 races will be run in major global cities. Although the locations are not yet finalized, Renault says London, Berlin, Rome, Beijing, Los Angeles, Miami and Rio de Janeiro are among the prospective cities.
No word on whether Frankfurt, where the SRT_01E has attracted a crowd during the first few days of the Frankfurt Motor Show, will be added to that list.
Frankfurt is "the perfect environment to reveal our new car," said Alejandro Agag, CEO of Championship promoter Formula E Holdings. "Many leading manufacturers are at the show today, unveiling their new electric road cars, but not just one-offs, full-car ranges, demonstrating how times have changed, and why the time is right to launch the new FIA Formula E Championship."
Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed @PeterCBigelow.