Words: Shubham Choukse
The world’s only pure electric racing series – Formula e – has received a major boost as giants such as Mercedes and Porsche have committed to the series come 2019. They will join their fellow German manufacturers Audi and BMW who have been involved in the series up until now.
Audi has been the official powertrain provider for the ABT Schaeffler team in the previous seasons and now will be racing as a factory team in the 2017-18 season. With the company pulling out of endurance car racing at the end of 2016, it was but natural for them to invest their resources in Formula e, given its benefits in the long run.
Their sister company from Ingolstadt also announced their departure from endurance racing at the end of the season. Porsche had claimed their record setting 19th Le Mans victory this year. However, due to increasing budget requirements and lack of competition, they have decided to pull out from the premier LMP1 class. They will however continue to develop and race the 911 RSR in the GT category.
BMW has also confirmed to enter Formula E as a manufacturer, but unlike Audi, BMW will develop and supply powertrains to the Andretti Autosport team. The BMW i8 has been the official safety car for Formula e so far, showcasing BMW’s commitment towards a cleaner mobility.
With many accolades to their name in DTM, the German touring car championship, Mercedes would cease their involvement in DTM at the end of 2018. With their hybrid power-units ruling the current F1 scenario, Mercedes will be the ones to keep a watch for come 2019.
The primary reason for all of the above giants entering Formula E is because all of them have invested a heavy chunk in an electric future. And just like their various motorsport advents trickling down to mass market cars, developing electric powertrains for Formula E will accelerate the progress of EV technology for cheap, efficient and high performance mass-market electric cars.