Formula E is our soulmate

The conversion to electric cars is accelerating at a rapidly increasing rate

Pioneering technology is ABB’s core business. We strongly believe in the future of electric cars. That is why  ABB has brought its name and technology leadership to the the first fully-electric motorsport series, ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

I am honoured to work for a company that improves the sustainability of the earth through technology. Or in the words of our CEO: “We do want to run the world, but without consuming the earth.” In 2016, we supported the Solar Impulse, a solar aircraft that flies around the earth without a drop of organic energy. We are now taking a new, bigger step towards reaching the general public. ABB Formula E is a kindred soul spreading the same message. I have had the pleasure of attending the ePrix at the Circuit des Invalides in the heart of Paris, a fantastic experience. A race without disturbing anyone with pollution or noise,  even attracting  many families with children.

Smart energy management

A major prerequisit for a smooth and successful transition from using emissions polluting  to clean energy sources is energy management. After all, the sun and wind cannot be controlled on command while a gasoline-powered turbine can. In the ABB FIA Formula E Championship races the winner is the car with the best energy management. The racing cars all have the same battery and recover energy when they slow down. All this happens on a small scale in the car, but for ABB us it is interesting to see how we can apply this on a larger scale. How can we store a surplus of energy? If we need more, how do we generate it?

Other world

ABB Formula E is becoming increasingly popular. And I have noticed that awareness of electric driving is growing, especially among the younger generation. My children are already much more concerned about this. I expect the switch to electric driving to be made sooner than we think. You could compare it with TV sets. The transition from large picture tubes to flat-screen TV actually went very quickly. No one initially believed in the flat TVs up to a sudden tipping point. The cost of the technology rapidly fell and enough capacity was created, especially from Korea and Japan.

With electric cars, it will be just the same. Maybe it will take half a generation or a whole generation, that depends on the person. But you can see that even oil companies like Shell are investing heavily in electrical charging infrastructure. This technology will also break through in public transport, for example in the case of electric buses. Today, ABB supports projects with electric buses and their charging infrastructure in cities such as Charleroi, Namur or Luxembourg. I am 100 percent certain that our grandchildren will live in a world that will be powered in a completely different way.

Make the click

Personally, I took the step to electric driving six months ago. Above all, I wanted to know what it would be like to plan and get everything organised. You should know: I drive about 40,000 km a year and previously had a diesel car with an driving radius of 1,000 km per fill-up. That certainly is different now. I’ve been driving an e-car for six months now and only had to ‘recharge’ once during a drive. I managed to perfectly plan all other charges. You have to organise yourself and make a mental switch.

When I see my battery is low, I can charge it at home. Or at the office. About five ABB branches in the Benelux are equipped with EV chargers. More and more hotels are offering a charging station for charging overnight. Also with customers or at the train station in Ghent, for example. You can park almost at the entrance of the station and there is a charging point. It is more pleasant to drive an electric car in many ways. It’s all about making the mental switch and organising yourself.

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About the author

Jo Pauwels

Managing Director, ABB Benelux, since November 2017. Jo focuses on leadership in breakthrough technology in the field of electrical energy and automation for utility companies, industry, transport and infrastructure. He gives priority to existing and potential customers, motivated and expert employees in an inspiring and healthy corporate culture. Joined ABB in 1981.
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