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Car and Driver: Speedy Kilowatts: Jaguar to Enter All-Electric Formula E Race Series

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2015 FIA Formula E Visa London ePrix Championship - Day One


Remember Formula E? The electron-fueled race series has not set the world of motorsport alight despite now being in its second season. But the championship is set to get a boost from next year with the announcement that Jaguar will be joining it with a full works entry.


Jaguar hasn’t participated in front-line racing since withdrawing from its disastrous and very expensive foray into Formula 1 in 2004, but has now decided to throw in with the FIA’s electric single-seater championship. It will take over the entry that is being surrendered by the outgoing Trulli team for the 2016-17 season, and its car will use a Dallara chassis and its own powertrain.


This, apparently, is the big reason for the entry. “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, JLR’s Engineering Director, in the official release. The move also amounts to an admission that we’ll be seeing pure-electric JLR products, like the rumored Jaguar E-Pace, sooner rather than later.


Formula E races on street circuits with 11 championship events in 10 locations around the world—including a visit to Long Beach next April. The first season was effectively a spec championship, with all teams driving identical cars, but from this year on the regulations have been relaxed to allow manufacturers to develop their own powertrains. Limited battery life still means there is a car change for each driver mid-race, and there’s also the fairly ridiculous “fan boost” that gives the most voted-for driver an additional 40-hp power shot that can be used once during a race.


Behind the scenes, Williams Advanced Engineering will be working with Jaguar as technical partner on the project, the offshoot of the Formula 1 company that developed the never-launched C-X75 hybrid megacar on behalf of Jaguar.


It’s fair to say that Formula E still has some way to go to win widespread fan acceptance, especially from those who prefer their racing to come with a soundtrack beyond the whining of electric motors. But Jaguar is clearly taking it seriously, and we can expect other carmakers to follow suit.


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