Time for a strategic lane change

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Time for a strategic lane change

The author is the head of the global cooperation team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

The 2022 Seoul E-Prix was staged in Jamsil, southern Seoul, over the weekend. The urban center that had hosted the 1988 Seoul Olympics again attracted world attention for hosting the Formula E event.

The venue of the event itself was unconventional. The place where the fastest electric vehicles raced was not a well-maintained race track but the Jamsil Main Stadium and surrounding roads.

Unlike a Formula 1 event that requires tracks like the Yeongam Circuit in South Jeolla, an FE race can take place in an urban setting as electric vehicles produce little noise and greenhouse gas. Some criticize the electric vehicle race for being rather boring, as they lack the “sexy” noise of the internal combustion engines. But let’s say that’s just a difference in perception.

FE race cars have unique requirements. While the teams in F1 are responsible for their own design and production of the “machine,” all 11 teams in the FE race were equipped with the same tires and batteries on the same GEN 2 body. The key lies in which team utilizes the battery management technique and skills to be faster and more efficient in the race.

Let’s admit the painful point that the FE vehicles appear rather toy-like and lack the wild charm of conventional races. But the exterior and design will evolve constantly.

Compared to F1, there is still a considerable gap in terms of size, popularity, basic engine power, competition prize money and media exposure. However, since FE was first launched in Beijing in 2014, the event is garnering more attention each year thanks to the “global environmental demands” that we cannot ignore.

In Britain, sales of new solely internal combustion engine-powered vehicles will be banned from 2030. Environment ministers of 27 countries of the European Union also met in Luxemburg in July and approved the bill to ban sales of new gasoline and diesel-powered cars from 2035. The internal combustion engine car market is disappearing fast.

Considering the changes in the industry and the market, the Seoul E-Prix event was meaningful. Korea is one of the top five carmakers in the world, but regrettably, the country has not made a clear mark in the EV market. (It did not make technological contribution to the vehicles participating in the race this time). So, this field is still in a “league of their own.” However, as the event serves as an opportunity to present changes and the future of the industry in our front yard, I hope Korean automobile industries seek ways to win through a strategic lane change.
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