A lot is happening quickly in the world of Formula E, with news that Nissan is to replace its sister brand Renault as an entrant in the zero emissions racing series.
At the same time we are seeing the mayors of many of Europe’s leading cities uniting to get tough on petrol and diesel cars. London has this week introduced a T Zone (T for Toxicity) with heavy tariffs on diesel cars entering the centre and a pledge to ban diesel and petrol cars altogether in the next few years.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan argues that pollutants from vehicles are collectively estimated to cause around 9,400 equivalent deaths every year in Greater London and impose an economic cost between £1.4bn and £3.7bn a year.
Berlin, Paris, Los Angeles and many other cities are also getting tough in what feels like a tipping point for the electric vehicle.
For Formula E it feels like everything is finally coming towards it; the new battery that will last an entire race is due to come on stream in Season V (Autumn 2018) and many of the leading manufacturers are piling in now, with Jaguar, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes and Nissan all committed to Season V.
With that will come investment, promotion and the tide will rise taking the series up. Thus far it has garnered admirers and has done quite well on the business to business angle, which is an important part of professional motorsport series today. But it has struggled to attract fans and arouse passions.
But that could change if the series becomes more high profile and attracts bigger name drivers.
All of this will not go unnoticed with Liberty Media and Formula 1, which is due to unveil its proposals for the new engine formula post 2021 next week. We will post on that separately
However there are threats too.
As the series matures and the manufacturers come in there is a risk that, if tight rein is not kept on the regulation of the series, they will escalate an arms race, as we saw in F1 in the mid 2000s, which would spoil it.
Even at the recent Formula E pre-season test there was evidence of Audi and Porsche starting to flex their muscles and there are rumours of the German manufacturers starting to get together to vote tactically on the regulations in the future. The Formula E organisers and the FIA will have to stay very much on top of that.
The test showed that the pecking order going into this next season appears to be Audi then Renault and Mahindra, who have done a superb job to get to that level, then Virgin, Techeetah, NextEv then Jaguar, Dragon and Venturi.
At the end of the coming Season IV Renault will exit and its sister brand Nissan will enter, becoming the first Japanese OEM to race in Formula E. Nissan has been a pioneer in roadgoing EVS with the Leaf being one of the first EVs on the market.
“As a pioneer in EV, we have learned a tremendous amount about high-performance electric vehicles and energy management that directly benefits our EV customers. After Season 4 we will focus resources on our aggressive goals for Formula 1 and we look forward to continuing to gain benefits from motorsport racing across the Alliance with Nissan, ” said Renaut’s Thierry Koskas.
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag welcomed the latest new manufacturer into his series: “Japan is a country at the forefront of new technologies with one of the biggest followings of Formula E. The shift towards sustainable mobility is in motion and it’s unstoppable. I look forward to seeing the Nissan logo adorned on the new-look cars for season five.”
What do you make of this latest development? Is Formula E getting on your radar now? Leave your comments in the section below