The all-electric series has been around since 2014, attracting attention for its bio-friendly strategies. “Since we joined Formula E, as a company we made a decision to become fully electric by 2025,” Jaguar Racing team director James Barkley said. “We were the first premium manufacturer to come to Formula E…. It is really relevant technology that we are developing here.”
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While seven of the 12 teams are backed by well-known commercial manufacturers this season, there will be a reshuffling with the new Generation 3 car set to debut in 2022. Jaguar now joins Porsche, Mahindra, DS Automobiles and Nissan, which have all officially committed to Formula E for Gen 3. Meanwhile, big brands BMW and Audi have announced their withdrawal from the series with the new car upgrade coming.
BMW, which has been involved with the series since the league’s inception, has said it is shifting its funding from racing development to global production of electric vehicles. “When it comes to the development of e-drivetrains, BMW Group has essentially exhausted the opportunities for this form of technology transfer in the competitive environment of Formula E,” the team said in a statement. Their team partner, Andretti Autosport, plans to continue competing with a BMW drivetrain without the manufacturer’s backing.
Audi, on the other hand, announced its complete withdrawal from Formula E to pursue the international extreme series, Dakar Rally. Where Formula E is a spec racing series with little variance from team to team aside from the drivetrain development, Dakar Rally’s rules are much more open for full car development.
“Formula E has accompanied the transformation phase at Audi,” said Markus Duesmann, chairman of the board of management for Audi AG. “The many technical freedoms offered by the Dakar Rally provide a perfect test laboratory for us in this respect.”
Similarly to Formula One, Formula E travels the world and races under the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) sanctioning body. “For us, if you look at it in comparison, Formula E is about a tenth of the cost of Formula One,” Barkley said. Also like F1, prospective teams and their financial stability must be assessed and approved by the FIA to compete in the series.
International motorsport and luxury car manufacturer McLaren Racing has expressed interest in joining the electric series after both Audi and BMW announced their exits. McLaren is already supplying the batteries for all the teams and has been optioned by the league as a possible competitor. The manufacturer would be the most natural fit to fill the vacant garage spots that Audi leaves behind or to partner with Andretti Autosport as they have with other racing entries in the Indianapolis 500 and Formula E’s sister series, Extreme E.
Formula E’s next two races will be held this weekend in London and air on CBS networks in the U.S.
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