The Jaguar team will start racing next autumn in the third season of the Formula E championship. JLR has said the championship “offers a unique opportunity for Jaguar Land Rover to further the development of future EV powertrain, including motor and battery, technology”.
A JLR statement read: “Jaguar Land Rover engineers will work directly with Jaguar’s race team to push the boundaries of electrification technology.”
JLR has not confirmed which of its brands will launch its first electric road car or when it will happen. However, Autocar understands Jaguar is readying a radically styled electric crossover for the Paris motor show next autumn and the timing will coincide with Jaguar’s entry to Formula E.
The concept is understood to closely preview a production car due to arrive in 2017 as a rival to the Tesla Model X. The styling is understood to heavily reference the C-X75 supercar concept. A range of around 300 miles for the battery-powered vehicle has been mooted, as has a price of around £60,000.
Jaguar’s race team will work with Williams Advanced Engineering, the pair having collaborated on the C-X75 concept car, a plug-in hybrid.
Formula E will act as a live test bed for developing electric technology for JLR vehicles and engineers from the road car side will work closely with the race team.
JLR chief engineer Nick Rogers used his announcement of Jaguar’s racing return to confirm that electric vehicles would “absolutely” play a role in Jaguar Land Rover’s future product portfolio, while refusing to say when these production vehicles would be launched, or whether an electric Jaguar would beat an electric Land Rover to the showrooms. The fact that the racer is a Jaguar and not a Land Rover is “not significant”, he says.
The latest announcement puts the crossover’s expected first sighting conveniently close to the Formula E Jaguar’s debut races, but for now, Nick Rogers isn’t keen to talk specifics, except about the new racing project.
”Formula E gives us a unique opportunity to further the development of electrification,” said Rogers. “We’ll be able to engineer and test our technologies under extreme performance conditions.”
Williams Advanced Engineering is already experienced in Formula E as the battery supplier and a designer of hybrid systems for Le Mans cars. Rogers said a significant number of his own engineers will be involved in the project.
“The future is about being more connected and more sustainable,” he added. “Electrification and lightweight technologies are becoming more important than ever as urbanisation increases. Formula E has recognised and reacted to these trends, which are perfect for our brand.”
Formula E cars were required to use common powertrain and chassis components for the first season, but new powertrain providers were allowed this year and in Jaguar’s first year — tipped to begin in September 2016 with a race in Montreal and include a new Hong Kong race — battery capacities rise from 28 to 32kWh, while peak engine power will rise by 25 percent to 250kW. The year after that, the minimum weight for a Formula E car, including driver, will fall from the current 888kg to 850kg.
Jaguar has yet to reveal the make-up of its team, or its driver line-up, but has appointed a team director, James Barclay. “We are proud to be one of the first vehicle manufacturers to commit to a series with our own team,” said Barclay. “We look forward to welcoming a whole new generation of Jaguar fans.”
Jaguar’s previous high-profile forays into motor racing have included: the early 1950s Le Mans efforts; the TWR-engineered XJS touring car and successful Le Mans campaigns of the 1980s and the disastrous Formula 1 bid in the early 2000s.