Dealing with major problems will bring out the best in us. The biggest threat to humanity right now is climate change. Air pollution is the visible part – the bad breath of climate change. India is the undisputed heavyweight of air pollution, with 21 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities being in India. 27% of that air pollution is caused by vehicles.
Air pollution in India, however, is old news. The new news, the good news, is how India is fighting this scourge. Emissions standards have been tightened by a costly two notches and the government is actively pushing the electrification of public and private vehicles. Furthermore, at the very tip of the e-revolution is the Formula E racing team of Mahindra.
The extremely competitive nature of motor racing has led to countless improvements and innovations that made their way into everyday motoring. Formula E cars look very much like Formula 1 cars, but they are fully battery-powered. The series was conceived as early as 2011, around the time when commercial EVs became a viable proposition, with the first race in 2014.
EVs faced several challenges in the quest to compete with and eventually beat ICE vehicles. These included costs, charging time, range and the biggie: how green was the entire proposition? It is no use bragging about your zero-emission car if there are significant environmental costs in building and operating the car, for example charging the battery from a high-emissions source. Built into Formula E is this very environmental frugality. There is no use in racing clean EVs if the rest of your operation is covered in a cloud of pollution.
Mahindra Racing has become the first team in Formula E and the first FIA World Championship entrant to sustain a net-zero carbon footprint from its founding before the first season to today. Of course, any human action, especially as complex as racing, will generate some carbon emissions. The trick is to minimise what you produce and offset the rest. A major and lasting way to offset emission is to plant trees, in Mahindra’s case, a forest of 18 million trees since 2013.
The team was also awarded the coveted FIA Three-Star Environmental Accreditation, one of only a handful of teams to be thus honoured.
Motor racing is an intensive microcosm of general motoring and when the lessons learned in Formula E are brought home to Mahindra vehicles on our roads, it should go a long way to alleviating India’s air pollution problems and help the world in the battle against climate change.
The news that Mahindra has a successful top-level racing operation adds just another layer to the story of this remarkable company. Mahindra operates in diverse fields such as aerospace and finance but is best known for its cars. The range of Mahindra vehicles available right here in South Africa offers everything from serious work bakkies to stylish, luxury SUVs.