Jaguar goes racing again, in Formula E

Open wheel series uses traditional racecars with electric powertrains

Published: December 15, 2015, 9:30 PM
Updated: December 19, 2015, 2:56 AM

Jaguar Formula E racecar

Jaguar, the British marque that has sporadically and generally successfully competed in various racing series globally, has stated its intention to contest the FiA Formula E Championship in the fall of 2016.

Jaguar’s historic racing successes have mostly come in Group C cars (often called Le Mans Prototypes) and its predecessors, and mainly at the Le Mans 24 Hours, starting with the C-Type and D-Type cars in the 1950s, and then again with the XJR-series cars in the mid ’80s to early ’90s. It has also enjoyed success in various national Touring Car Championships and had a brief stint in Formula 1, though in name only.

This time out, Jaguar — actually, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) — has chosen to highlight its technological know-how rather than test its mechanical superiority by competing in the world’s first global electric vehicle racing series.

“Electric vehicles will absolutely play a role in Jaguar Land Rover's future product portfolio and Formula E will give us a unique opportunity to further our development of electrification technologies,” said Nick Rogers, Group Engineering Director for Jaguar Land Rover. “The Championship will enable us to engineer and test our advanced technologies under extreme performance conditions.

“The future is about being more connected and more sustainable; electrification and lightweight technologies are becoming more important than ever as urbanisation continues to increase,” he added. “Formula E has recognised and reacted to these trends and the championship's exciting and pioneering approach is the perfect fit for our brand.”

“Jaguar is a brand with a rich sporting heritage and the fact that it is returning to global motorsport with Formula E is a huge endorsement of the championship and its ability to influence the development of electric cars,” said Alejandro Agag, Chief Executive Officer for Formula E. “Jaguar brings with it a passionate fan base that will drive the popularity of the championship across the world and once again shows that Formula E is the future of motorsport.”

Entering its third year, the Formula E Championship features single-seat, open wheel race cars powered by electric motors. The series features 10 2-driver teams and originally started with supplied cars that had power limited to 150 kW. It its second year, power output was raised to 170 kW and teams were allowed to develop their own powertrains.

“We built this series to offer an alternative competition for manufacturers to step into the sport and develop road-relevant electric technologies,” said Jean Todt, President of the FIA. “The choice of Jaguar to come back to motor racing with Formula E is a proof of success. As it forges a path forward for the future of the electric car, Formula E managed to attract one of the most prestigious and historical brand across the automotive industry.”

Jaguar Land Rover is the UK’s largest investor in research and development, in any business sector, and will use its engineers in the racing venture with the aim of helping the racecars develop a winning powertrain, while capturing important data that will go a long way toward improving performance and durability in production vehicles.

The company will partner with Williams Advanced Engineering, which brings extensive motorsports knowledge to the table. Williams was also a partner in the development of the plug-in hybrid, diesel turbine Jaguar C-X75 concept supercar.

“We looked in detail at alternative ways of returning to motorsport. This was such an important decision for Jaguar and we wanted to get it right,” said James Barclay, Jaguar Team Director. “With our future EV plans, Formula E was the obvious choice and we believe that the benefits are enormous. The FIA and the promoter have exciting plans for the future of the championship and we are proud to be one of the first vehicle manufacturers to commit to the series with our own team. We have a lot of work to do ahead of the first race.”

The 11-race series runs over the fall, winter and spring seasons.