Jaguar Land Rover is to re-enter the world of motorsports as it announced plans to enter a team in the new urban electric FIA Formula E Championship.
Jaguar Land Rover will enter the championship from September next year — the third season of the international championship for single-seater electric cars that kicked off in Beijing in 2014. The move marks the luxury carmaker’s return to motorsports 11 years after it ended its participation in Formula 1 racing.
While the racing car will be from the Jaguar brand, the company is yet to confirm whether the first commercially available purely electric vehicle will be from the Jaguar or Land Rover families. It already offers hybrid vehicles. “We believe electrification is the future,” said Nick Rogers, Group Engineering Director for JLR, who confirmed plans to “deliver a portfolio of electric vehicles” at a press conference in London on Tuesday.
Its participation in the championship, focused on zero emissions, and racing in urban centres would allow the company to test and refine technology already being developed for electric vehicles, including in fields such as endurance testing and maximising efficiency. “We want to see how you can use each watt of energy as efficiently as possible…when you decelerate how do you scoop up every watt of energy?” said Rogers.
“It’s the right time for Jaguar Land Rover to be back in racing,” said Jaguar team leader James Barclay.
When questioned on why the company had chosen the electric vehicle championship rather than the longer established F1, he said that it represented the current focus of the company, on the latest technologies.
The championship’s focus on urban environments, and a younger audience, also fit with the company’s growing focus on young city dwellers.
“Electrification is growing on everyone’s agenda…this brings racing right back to the fan base, making it accessible.”
The company is partnering with Williams Advanced Engineering, a company with which it has already partnered on projects such as the C-X75 hybrid concept car.
The announcement comes following a rapid succession of developments at the company, including the expansion of the engine manufacturing plant, and the development of a £1-billion plant in Slovakia, set to open in 2018.
The company has targeted an annual spend of £3 billion a year on new products and facilities. Projects such as electric cars, will help JLR meet targets to cut emissions sharply by 2020, as part of tough EU limits set to come in that year.
Testing of the racing vehicle will begin in Spring 2016.
JLR is set to announce further details of its FIA Formula E plans, including the team early next year.
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