Formula E announced the nine manufacturers that will race electric cars in seasons five, six, and seven. You may think this is no big whoop, but it is. Here’s why the whoop is big: beginning in season five, each team will race one car per driver for the entire race — like every other racing series on the planet — rather than two.
Because battery technology lagged behind series founder Alejandro Agag’s ambition for all-electric racing, Formula E teams have fielded two drivers with two cars per driver, so four cars in the garage. In the middle of the race, usually after about an hour on the track, the driver would pull onto pit row and climb out of the first car and into an identical second car with a fresh battery. It’s kind of the equivalent of refueling.
The new single-car standard will cover seasons five, six, and seven, which begin in fall 2018. The nine manufacturers who have met this standard are:
- ABT Formel E
- BMW AG
- DS Automobiles
- Jaguar Land Rover
- Mahindra Racing
- NextEV NIO
- Penske Autosport
- Venturi Automobiles
There are teams currently racing that are not represented on this list, including Faraday Future Dragon Racing and Techeetah. But other manufacturers are furthering their commitment to electric open-wheel racing, like Renault, Venturi, NextEV, and Mahindra. Jaguar jumped into the series for 2016-2017, while MS Amlin Andretti, which is also racing this season, seems to be dropping out before the new standards come into play. Mercedes-Benz had been planning to join the fray in season five, but its name is not on this list published by FIA, the series’ governing body.
Also in 2018, there will be a new Formula E car on the track; Spark Racing Technology will produce identical bodies for each team to cover in stickers and shiny paint as they see fit. The new battery that makes single-car racing possible will be supplied to the teams by McLaren Applied Technologies. And the Roborace series should be up and running by that time too. These elements added together could mean we’ll see a complete reboot of Formula E for season five.