It may be a sign of the times that while Formula One is going through a bit of a rough patch, shall we say, the nascent Formula E series appears to be going from strength to strength. The latest big name team to join the pure-electric single-seater championship is Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which today unveiled plans to enter a team for the third season, which kicks off in September 2016.
The UK car maker has set up a new Jaguar racing team to run the project, headed by team director James Barclay. JLR will use the series to test a number of technologies that may find their way on to the increasingly “electrified” vehicles sporting both the Jaguar and Land Rover badges.
Jaguar Land Rover says it has spent £11bn ($16.5 billion) in the last five years on product creation and facilities, and is spending a further £3bn ($4.5 billion) in the next 12 months in this area. Included in that investment will be “a portfolio of new electric vehicles” across both brands, although Nick Rogers, group engineering director for JLR, wouldn't reveal whether Jaguar or Land Rover would be first to build an all-electric car. Rumours suggest it could be a Jaguar crossover to rival the Tesla Model X.
“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 Rogers.
“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. 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.”
When the Formula E car first turns a wheel it will mark Jaguar’s return to racing for the first time since it pulled out of Formula One in 2004. The firm’s enjoyed its most success in endurance racing, first wining the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race in 1951, with the C-type. In 1952 the firm pioneered the use of disc brakes and in 1953 it took a second overall victory.
Jaguar says a number of high voltage components and learnings from the C-X75 hybrid prototype supercar project will be transferred to the Formula E car. The C-X75 was developed in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering, which has supplied the common battery system for the first two series of Formula E.
Jaguar will continue its partnership with Williams, although from the third season new powertrain providers are allowed, with battery capacity rising from 28 to 32kWh and peak engine power will increasing by 25% to 250kW.
Initial computer renders of the car have been released but JLR says the official Jaguar Formula E team name, livery and driver line-up will be announced in the new year.