Climate 21

Zero Carbon Electric Motorsports Formula E and Extreme E - a chat with Alejandro Agag

May 26, 2021 Tom Raftery / Alejandro Agag Season 1 Episode 26
Climate 21
Zero Carbon Electric Motorsports Formula E and Extreme E - a chat with Alejandro Agag
Show Notes Transcript

A few months back I hosted Rodi Basso on the podcast where he talked about the E1 Electric Powerboat racing series and it was an excellent episode so, I decided to invite his co-founder Alejandro Agag to come on the podcast to talk about Formula E, and the new extreme off-road electric racing motorsport series Extreme E.

Formula E, if you are not familiar with it is a zero carbon motorsport series, akin to Formula 1 except the cars are 100% electric. There are some more differences that Alejandro goes into in the episode which make it very cool to watch and/or attend.

Then there's the new Extreme E off-road series. The first leg (Desert X Prix) of which took place a few weeks ago in Saudi Arabia. I watched several of the races on their YouTube channel and they were breathtaking. The second leg (Ocean X Prix) is this coming weekend (May 29-30th) in Dakar Senegal and will be shown live on may television channels, as well as on the Youtube channel.

As interesting as the racing is, more interesting again is the thinking behind Extreme E, and its legacy program - both of which Alejandro talked about also on the episode. Check it out.

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message over on my SpeakPipe page, head on over to the Climate 21 Podcast Forum, or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Sustainability solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/sustainability and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover the show. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Music credit - Intro and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

Alejandro Agag:

I thought we should adapt motorsport also create we should create some motorsport that is directly focusing on those new technologies and on a more environmental way of moving around. That is really the idea the origin of formula e.

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening wherever you are in the world. This is the climate 21 podcast, the number one podcast showcasing best practices and climate emissions reductions. And I'm your host, global Vice President for SAP. Tom Raftery. Climate 21 is the name of an initiative by SAP to allow our customers calculate, report and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In this climate 21 podcast, I would showcase best practices and thought leadership by SAP, by our customers by our partners on by our competitors if their game in climate emissions reductions. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast in your podcast app of choice to be sure you don't miss any episodes. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the climate 21 podcast. My name is Tom Raftery with SAP and with me on the podcast today I have my special guests Alejandro. Alejandro, would you like to introduce yourself?

Alejandro Agag:

Hello, good morning. And I'm Alejandra gag. I'm the founder of a few different competitions around electric motorsport. The first one formally, which is all the FIA ABB formula a world championship. The second one is the extreme e championship of electric SUVs. And the third one is the E one championship of electric power bowls. So that's those three are my main main activity.

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic. And we had Rudy basso on a few episodes ago talking about extreme ebes, a fascinating episode. But let's talk a little about Formula E and extreme E. First of all, why? Or why, why do you think electric motor sport is important? Why did you decide to found these two motor sports? No, I

Alejandro Agag:

have been in the world of motorsport for many years. Let's call it traditional models for combustion motorsport. And at one point, maybe around 15 years ago, I thought that there was starting to be a gap between where things were going in the world and in the planet. And motorsport motorsport, kept using fossil fuels kept using combustion engines. But clearly, for me, the future was going to be moving towards sustainability towards greener mobility, and towards other kinds of power trains. So I thought we should adapt motorsport or should create, we should create some other sport that is directly focusing on those new technologies, and on a more environmental way of moving around. That is really the idea the origin of formulate, and then of all the rest that came after. So So yeah, so is to find a way for motorsport to be more focus and more aligned with where the world is going.

Tom Raftery:

more relevant. Exactly more relevant. That's that's a good way to put it. Okay, super. And for people who are not familiar with Formula E, how does it? How is it different from traditional motorsport, apart from the electric drive train

Alejandro Agag:

formula, it has a few different features. Of course, if everybody then it's electric, so that makes it stand stand out. But the second is that it raises in city centers, we decided to bring formulae to the people, we decided that for two main reasons First, to bring the show closer to where the people are bringing the show to them, not having them come to the show on potentially a commercial car, multiply that by 100,000. And then you get a quite significant footprint when they people have to grab two hours to go to a racetrack. Instead, we pay the race inside the city. But the second element, which is probably the more important is that we get the message, your message that electric cars are ready to use in cities are a solution for the city today, not in the future. Because of course, electric cars are the future, but electric cars are also the present. And we need to start using them now. And they are a really good solution, especially proceedings. So that's that's that really sets formulae apart.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, and it differs in some of the rules as well from from Formula One. For example, can

Alejandro Agag:

you talk a little bit about how the rules are different and why the race format is different. Of course, our races are slightly shorter. And because of the electric powertrain, we can do things that would the race almost halfway between a real race and a video game. We have our attack mode where drivers go off the optimal racing line over a sensor and when they go over that sensor, they get an additional boost of energy for four minutes. That's it That's a bit of a kind of Mario Kart concept, where they go on the star and they got share more points here you get more and more energy and you got to overtake the guys in front of you. But then the other ones will be using that attack mode to, and then we'll counter attack. So no, it's there's a lot of strategy. Also, we want to put on on really on the at the heart of the race, energy preservation and energy management. So we give the drivers less energy or we make the race longer than what the battery would last, if they will go in full travel all the time. So they cannot go full, full throttle, all the labs are great, some labs, they need to slow down, they need to call the need to region energy, they need to manage their energy is like if I give you you have to talk for one hour, but I give you a mobile battery for only 40 minutes, you need to manage the battery, the energy of that battery, and then make the raise is really exciting. And it's also a message that we do to manage the energy in general in our life.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we see with traditional Motorsports that there have been a lot of innovations that have come out of those that are fed into the modern cars that you know, we drive on the road today. Is there an equivalent in from the

Alejandro Agag:

IE? Absolutely, yes, of course, a big big element of the formula is being a laboratory to test new advances, new developments on electric our car technologies that they can be used on the road cars. many examples of these, of course, the first one is software, the electric cars, a very important part of their, their their operation is the software that runs the power train the energy management system, the battery, and that develops very, very fast in motor racing. And then that can go really fast from the road racecar to the road car. Then of course you have other parts of the power train, you have advantages on the batteries on the battery packaging, and you have advantage of charging also all of our charging that we're going to be applying soon. So there are many, many examples of technologies that are developed in racing and can be used on the road cars and formula is no exception. And especially focusing on electric power trains.

Tom Raftery:

And in fact has hasn't the design of the cars been optimized to optimize far developments that feed into mainstream vehicles.

Alejandro Agag:

Yes, of course, the design of the guards is focusing on allowing really impossible for the OEM for the manufacturer for the teams to develop solutions that then can be applied on the road cars, we go by generations generation one, and we do the one we use on the first three seasons of our history was actually using two cars per driver to finish the race because the battery was didn't have energy to finish our race. Generation two, we went from two cars to one car, and with one car, we managed to multiply by two, the distance that the good cover and race time. And, and therefore we showed a big improvement on on battery capacity. Generation three, we're going to go into a lot less weight, a lot more horsepower or kilowatts. And we are going to show a huge leap in performance of these cars. And we're also going to add the feature of ultra fast charging in these cars. So really important technologies for the future and performance wise, a huge step forward for from a

Tom Raftery:

fantastic talk a little bit about the the whole events, because as far as I know, the formula II events themselves are carbon free, they're you no carbon neutral, what kind of steps are you taking to ensure that these are carbon neutral events, of course,

Alejandro Agag:

there are different ways to the government run or current zero, I think there are two parts to this strategy. The first part is you need to minimize absolutely to the limit your emissions, you need to minimize any emissions associated to the event. And not only to the space three to the event, also to the transportation to the event, to the logistics that are necessary to bring all the cars or the elements to the event and so on. So there's these we minimize, of course, after that, whatever you haven't been able to eliminate you offset by, you know, acquiring carbon credits. There are supporting programs that that that eliminate co2 emissions. So and then you become, of course, carbon neutral. We have been doing these monitoring exactly all the current measures that we've been creating since the beginning since inception, and we have minimized them and we have offset them. And I think this is the path for for every championship. Having said that nobody's perfect, you always have emissions, we are going to need to have a lot of emissions to get out of the co2 world. So there are no perfect solutions, and you have to be quite pragmatic. And I think the positive effect of having a championship like formulae far outweighs the emissions that we can create because in the long term, if you eliminate all the combustion cars, that will be a major a major win for you know, for the for basically most of our for for humans that leaving the planet the planet doesn't care about the level of co2 4 million parts are, but weaker, because we may have to, you know, disappear from here. The planet will be okay.

Tom Raftery:

So if we are getting rid of combustion cars, and I would be big time in favor of that myself being in being an Eevee fan or an Eevee driver, but if we do get rid of combustion cars, does this mean that the end of Formula One is nigh?

Alejandro Agag:

Well, not necessarily. I mean, as we know, there are still horse races. You know, we don't take the horse to the office. So and why would not Formula One turn electric, you know, eventually for no one could become elected. So so we'll see an evolution on the next year's, let's see where the technology goes. I think battery electric cars are, of course, for me the main part of the solution for mobility in the future, but they will have to be a combination of technologies if we want to reduce emissions quickly. So optimizing combustion is one hydrogen fuel cell cars. It's another one, although, you know, the efficiency of hydrogen is limited, but it's definitely an interesting alternative. And battery electric cars are another one. So you know, let's see whether technology revolves in the end and then make decisions but why not only want to go electric eventually.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, if it does go electric, then why would you have a Formula One and a Formula E?

Alejandro Agag:

Well, you probably wouldn't. The thing is there is a license and exclusive license. And for the moment formula is a hazard license for 25 years we have used, we're using our seventh year. So we still have another 18 years of exclusivity on electric racing. So either Formula One buys Formula E or we get some kind of agreement or merge or decide to work together or you know, or they could not go electric under the rules of the Federation, they could do it independently, but not under the rules on the duration. And the division regulates from no one so. So that sets the background for for the future. And let's see, let's see where it goes. But we will have to evolve it.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And you mentioned you mentioned as well, at the start extreme he and we haven't really touched on that yet, apart from you saying that it's su V's an extreme he started this year in I can't remember if it was March or April, Lula in Saudi Arabia. Yeah, I saw some of the videos on the YouTube channel, it looked absolutely amazing. But I mean, we haven't talked much about it, can you first of all, give a little bit of the background about extreme IE what it is and why it is extreme extreme

Alejandro Agag:

is a new a new championship, a new jumpship with with different objectives to formulate, we wanted to take these electric cars to the most remote corners of the planet that are really the frontier where, where climate change is happening, not only climate change, other effects of human activity in our planet are visible, and we wanted to show them through motorsport. And we wanted also to give a voice to some scientists to our scientists that were with us to tell the story of what's going on in those locations. And we wanted also to take action on those locations, even limited action, to showcase that it's time for action. There's too much, people have been talking for too long, and people continue talking but but but now he's really never action. So that's the essence of extremely we take these races to the rainforest in the Amazon, or to the Arctic ice cap, or to the glaciers in Ushuaia, to the desert or in Saudi Arabia, or to the ocean front line in Senegal, in West Africa, to show what's going on in those places. That is that is extreme, and the first race was a few weeks ago. And it was absolutely incredible. Because just by watching the setting already you feel attracted to what's going on, and you want to learn more.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, I watched loads of those videos on the extreme IE channel on YouTube. And it was amazing to see, I'll put a link in the show notes of the podcast for people to the YouTube channel so they can watch some of them if they haven't seen them already. But seeing it, seeing it in the desert and seeing all the sand being kicked up, which must have been really, really challenging for the drivers. It was very, very intense. And we had a few spills and tips as well, which made it even more exciting. Fortunately, no one was injured. As far as I could tell.

Alejandro Agag:

Yeah, there were big crashes. But the cars are extremely safe in respect of racing, and actually people that really caught the attention of people. But yeah, it was very challenging. The dice are very challenging. Desert temperatures are going up is getting even drier. We were testing in January, and it was more humid. But now we the very, very dry summer coming. It was it was tough. So that's what we want extreme

Tom Raftery:

and racing in environments like that, which are environmentally sensitive, which is why you're there. How do you ensure that you're not going to cause any lasting damage there?

Alejandro Agag:

Yeah, we get that question a lot. Of course, we do an environmental impact study before we go. But, you know, the reality is that those are the places where we should go racing, because they are just an extension of sand or extensions of rocks. And a car kind of breaks down in the car cannot break rocks. A car cannot even break ice. But I get the question asked a lot and you know, is it I guess the perception is, oh my god, we're going to go there and destroy it. You cannot destroy those places. Some of them are sadly already destroyed. Some of them are just physically impossible to damage. But of course, if we were to go to a place where we could see that we could inflict any sort of damage, we will not raise.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, super. And one of the one of the things that really caught my attention about extreme E is the fact that it's two drivers, one male, one female on each team. Can you talk a little bit about that, because I think that's that new and interesting

Alejandro Agag:

is, I have been myself working for a long time in trying to bring more women into into motorsport. I think, of course, motorsport is a was a men's sport, or has the women's power, but not really, for any special reason, because women can drive very, very well. So So I tried already 15 years ago, to have a Formula Three, only female theme. I wasn't really so convinced that the format of having competitions only for a woman, and then only for men separate was the only solution, I guess, is what's happening now. But I kind of was trying to kind of not accept that. So I thought, and I really actually like watching the double mix games, the women are attorneys. And in a normal mix, match, it doesn't matter who's stronger. Of course, normally, in tennis, the men are stronger, as we'll see. But but it doesn't matter. Because whoever misses the point, or whoever wins, the point can decide the game. So the woman and the men are equally important for for the result. And that's what I wanted to bring into motorsport. So that's why this format of men and women, I think it's fascinating. I think it's a great addition to the sport. And I think it doesn't matter if they get either mango faster, and the woman was lower or vice versa. Both are decisive for the victory because they work as a team. And I like also this message of men, a woman working as a team, because there is so much kind of I don't know now, auditions of like, if we were enemies. No, but I think we were not. So we it's very good that we work as a team. Yeah,

Tom Raftery:

yeah, I think so. The, as we said that the first extreme event was a few weeks ago in the desert, what has been the learnings from that? Or what's your takeaway from that first one,

Alejandro Agag:

how many lessons of course, you know that that that raise was almost like a miracle that it worked, because we haven't really tested anything before. COVID was a massive disruption to our plants, we couldn't do our testing, we couldn't try anything. We couldn't try the broadcasting systems. We couldn't try the cars, we couldn't try the racing format. We couldn't try anything. So we basically use that as a massive test. We've taken so many notes, and we're going to improve so many things. But the second reason that I guess we will keep improving until we stabilize because COVID has made this thing so difficult to put together.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And when and where is the next leg of the extremely event

Alejandro Agag:

is next weekend. So no, this coming one is the one after so like in today's in Dakar, Senegal, we are going there to the to the coast to the to a massive beach, beautiful beach, but sadly, very, very contaminated with plastics, a lot of ocean plastic on that beach. So we want to highlight that problem and also some of the villages of the coastline and suffering for the rays of the sea level. And, you know, that's connected to the place where we go after, because after we will be going to the Arctic to showcase actually, we're going to reach in a place that used to be covered with Arctic ice cap ice and now is not. So you see that everything is connected, all the problems are connected. And the villagers in the coastal in Senegal are suffering from the ice melting in Greenland. Wow. Wow.

Tom Raftery:

And can you give me the dates of those?

Alejandro Agag:

Yeah. 29 and 30 of may? It's Senegal, Dakar. And then on the 28th to the ninth of August, I believe it's agreement. Okay.

Tom Raftery:

Are there other ways to consume it besides on YouTube?

Alejandro Agag:

Yeah, is live on TV. So if you live in the UK, you can watch it on ITV, if you want. And then all the countries is live on many broadcasters. So you know, we're in perceiving in Germany, we are in the immediacy of the needle in TV, the Spain in global in Brazil, in Fox, Fox Sports in the US. You were in CNN, CA, CCTV, the Chinese studies cctv.com in China, you know, we're everywhere.

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic. Fantastic. What's next? And what's what's coming next. I mean, not just for Formula E, not just for extreme E, but you know, in general, what, well, what, what's next for Formula E, what's next for extreme e? And then what's next for Alejandro and electric Motorsports?

Alejandro Agag:

Well, I think next, next for let's say all the championships is to continue pushing forward the same agenda to continue to promote electric mobility because still, electric mobility is a very, very small fraction of all the mobility that we use, and we need to definitely increase that so we have a role to play in that so that's kind of the future for us. Keep keep fighting on this. Then and that will be done in many different ways, improving the technology making the show bigger and increasing our fan base, and so on. And so for me really to work on the work on this space, I mean, I've been now involved in the kind of sustainability space for many years now, through technology through sports through championships, I'm also doing an investment with some some large private equity funds that I'm advising to invest in, in green projects. I do the sort of very kind of pragmatic way. And so you know, we I'm not probably I will define myself as an environmentalist, I'm a businessman that cares for the environment. And I think we need environmentalist but also we need even more businessman that care about the environment, because businesses that the power that we be able to execute the change, people can see what we need to do, but then other people need to make it happen. And to make it happen, you make compromises, like I said, to make solar panels, you will need quite a bit of co2, as solar panel is paying its co2 bill for five years until it starts being let's say, carbon negative in its life. Luckily, they can be used for 25 years. So you have 20 years of positive effect, but you pay a bill of co2 for the first five years, I think that's a good example, we will need a lot of oil to get out of the oil age. So that's how I see things. And like I say, I'm a businessman that is trying to do environmental products.

Tom Raftery:

Super super. We're coming towards the end of the podcast. No, Andrew, is there any question that I've not asked you that you wish I had? Are? Is there any topic we've not brought up that you think it's important for people to be aware of?

Alejandro Agag:

No, I think No, I think my really my message. He was the one I knew the last on the last question, I think I think we all have to do something for the environment and especially co2 emissions that cause raising temperatures are the most urgent problem to tackle there are many many others and plastic pollution in the oceans is a very visible one but that is not going to key millions of people or displace millions of people but climate change may have that effect very soon with the change of temperatures in some areas of the planet so we all have to do something we don't need to be environmentalist or we don't do don't need to be members of extinction rebellion or anything like that to to make that happen we all can happen on a more kind of normal manner. We will have to make things without having civilization stop I mean, you know, not going on holiday for me is not the solution. The solution is having electric planes for example. But But yeah, everybody needs to take action everybody needs to do something and they think let's do it in a pragmatic way so we can get out of this problem.

Tom Raftery:

Super super. Alexander if people want to know more about yourself Alejandro are about Formula E or extreme e Are any of the topics we discussed on the podcast today. Where would you have me direct them?

Alejandro Agag:

Are they gonna go to the website or the Instagram account formula? So for myself I WWE live dot FIA Formula calm extremely extreme flash e comm so Gz and E one series The boats z one series.com. Those are our our championships. And you know that's that's where you find everything or at least around Are you gonna do Aleksandra extremely on Instagram, and they usually are what are what I'm doing where I'm going, moving quite a lot with COVID So there we go.

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic. 100. That's been excellent. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today. My pleasure. Thank you for having me. Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about climate 21 Feel free to drop me an email to Tom Raftery at SAP comm or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. If you'd like to show please don't forget to subscribe to it and your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.