As anyone who has followed the world of motorsport will tell you, British automaker Jaguar used to be a formidable force at the upper echelons of single-seat motor racing. But in 2004, after what was a particularly tough year for the automaker, Ford — Jaguar’s parent company at the time — axed Jaguar’s Formula One team, saying it “no longer make a compelling business case” for any Ford group companies to race in the high-octane race series.
Consequently, Jaguar’s Formula One business was sold off to Red Bull — and a chapter ended in Jaguar’s illustrious race career.
But next year, twelve years after Jaguar ended its Formula One participation and eight years after Ford sold the Jaguar Land Rover brands to Indian-based Tata Motors, Jaguar will embark on a new chapter of single-seat motor racing competition by competing in the 2016/2017 FIA Formula E Championship.
The announcement, made this morning by Jaguar, will see the automaker join the third season of the FIA Formula E Championship as a manufacturer with its own team. Also announced this morning via separate press releases is the news that Dragon Racing — who currently races in a partnership with Venturi — will become a manufacturer in its own right next season.
While Jaguar Land Rover has yet to bring a production electric vehicle to market, the brand has a specialist electric vehicle development team at its UK headquarters. That team, responsible for building a fleet of all-electric LandRover Defender EV prototypes as well as several plug-in hybrid Range Rover and Jaguar prototypes, will use Jaguar’s Formula E participation as a way to test and refine electric vehicle technology.
Also working with Jaguar Land Rover on the Jaguar Formula e team will be Williams Advanced Engineering, who will be Jaguar’s official Technical Partner for the race series. Responsible for the lithium-ion battery packs which Formula E race teams have been using for the past two seasons, Williams worked extensively in the past with Jaguar on various prototype vehicles, including its famous C-X75 plug-in hybrid gas turbine concept car.
“I am proud to announce Jaguar’s return to racing with an entry into the innovative FIA Formula E championship. 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.”
“It is my belief that over the next five years we will see more changes in the automotive world than in the last three decades,” he continued. “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. Formula E has recognised and reacted to these trends and the championship’s exciting and pioneering approach is the perfect fit for our brand.”
With Jaguar expected to bring an all-electric model to market in the next few years, Formula E will prove invaluable to the company, especially given the tough competition it faces in the electric car market segment thanks to a certain automaker by the name of Tesla Motors.
Sadly, we’ve got something of a wait until we see the Jaguar Formula E race team on the track, since the Formula E 2016/17 race series won’t start until the end of next year. But in the meantime, expect more news from Jaguar as it drip-feeds us news about its chosen drivers, car technology and test sessions.
Are you glad to see Jaguar enter Formula E? Do you think this means an all-electric Jaguar is imminent? And what do you make of Jaguar’s Tron-esque video accompanying the announcement?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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