Voxdale’s Flying Lap
Antwerp’s finest product development breaks lap records in Formula E
estimated reading time: 9 minutes
The speed and competitiveness of a Formula E car relies – just like in Formula One – on aerodynamics, weight and output. In a sport where a millisecond can be the difference between a race victory or not, Antwerp innovation company Voxdale is the perfect match for India’s Mahindra Racing. An association that puts the Flemish technology company in pole-position.
Mahindra is one of the few Indian vehicle manufacturers that are active on a global level. Founded in 1945, the constructor of cars, tractors and army vehicles has broadened its activities in recent years. Mahindra Racing was set up in 2011, while in 2015 Mahindra bought the famous car design company, Pininfarina. For six years, the team participated in the 125cc class of the reputable MotoGP racing series. During that time, it also developed a racing team to participate in a new, revolutionary open-wheeled, all-electric single-seater series: the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, which was launched as a global series in 2014.
Formula E has many similarities with the highest class of auto racing, Formula One. The world’s fastest racing drivers battle on street circuits to score individual and constructor points. Instead of Grand Prix, the drivers race in E-Prix where refueling is unnecessary: these single-seaters are electrically powered. Koen Beyers, CEO of Voxdale and avid racing enthusiast, felt the urge to get involved in this revolutionary and sustainable championship.
“In 2017 we got in touch with Mahindra Racing”, Koen recalls. “Formula E is a young, but very attractive championship. It’s like a marketing platform for new technologies, thanks to the presence of almost all major car manufacturers. A constructor like AUDI or Porsche isn’t interested in the ideas of a Flemish innovation bureau, since they have their in-house innovation specialists.
But together with Umicore’s support and test driver Sam Dejonghe, we had the skillset and name recognition that convinced the other teams of our added value. Our consortium with Umicore grew to an energetic alliance for recycling and further development of batteries. This got us into pole-position to join forces with Mahindra Racing."
“Mahindra Racing always had the ambition to build a complete single-seater. In Formula E it is mandatory for all teams to use the same type of battery for the primary power source. As such, the driver skills and car aerodynamics have a lot more influence and Voxdale could really let its innovative ideas run wild. Our challenge was to develop the auxiliary 12V-battery as ergonomically as possible: many of the car systems depend on it. We really dug deep and designed this battery with maximal functionality, together with some of the team’s other partners."
Lighter, higher, faster
“We didn’t have a radical auxiliary battery right from the start. Our first season in Formula E was all about dipping our toes into the water. All the changes in functionality and materials were implemented for the second season. Lighter, higher, faster, just like in Formula One. By radicalising, we gained momentum and were also asked to perform tests in aerodynamics. All the progression we made, saw its origin in virtual modelling and digital twins. As such, we could take more risks when compared to conventional prototyping and physical modelling. It allows you to present revolutionary ideas to your client, and back them up with hard evidence thanks to simplified simulations. That’s just Voxdale, flat out!"
The broad range
The broad range
“The fact that Voxdale is playing a relevant part in a global sport like Formula E is the perfect example of the Flemish passion for innovation. “Everything is here, right at our fingertips. Inspiration and experience? Belgium has numerous cutting-edge companies that got their inspiration from product developers and design agencies. Moreover, Flanders provides a broad network with numerous support platforms, such as VLAIO, Hybrio and ANTWERP. POWERED BY CREATIVES, of course.
Never underestimate the value of a vast network: that’s how we got in touch with Mahindra in the first place. It’s typical for a Fleming to stay humble and modest, but with our creativity and desire to innovate and invent we have turned Flanders into a paradise for technological innovation!”
“Voxdale frequently partners up, for instance with a company from our Hybrio-network. It’s not our ambition to have all the state-of-the-art novelties in-house: we feel it’s better to collaborate with a partner that has the specific knowledge and experience. As such, we stimulate innovation both ways: never underestimate the synergetic effect of such a cooperation. Moreover, we can’t forget the economic factor here: these collaborations open doors and generate economic added value for the various sectors."
Innovation can be a turning point in a world that is in desperate need of more sustainable and ecological solutions. In Flanders, numerous cutting-edge technology companies are assisted by design agencies and creative professionals. These synergies turn the region into an actual innovation hub where partnerships stimulate innovation and generate economic value. Let this be the reason for national and international businesses to surf along this growing wave of sustainability. Are you interested in a partnership or cooperation with a leading creative professional?
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