FIA Formula E Championship for EVs looking likely for 2013
By Jack Martin
October 30, 2011
The FIA, governing body of internal-combustion-engined motorsport, appears to have finally recognized the bleeding obvious (that electric vehicles will become mainstream) and is planning a high profile electric racing championship series beginning in 2013 - FIA Formula E Championship. The series has not been publicly framed as yet so it is not known if the series will be run at the same venues as the Formula One series but it can be expected to be held at a range of international venues and will logically serve as the first official championship for electric vehicles.
It is not known if any of the established manufacturers with roadgoing electric vehicles will participate.
Hybrid manufacturers such as Toyota, Peugeot, Audi and Porsche are already mounting efforts to successfully race hybrid race efforts in sportscar racing over the next few years, and throughout history, the "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" axiom has been true.
Hence it is not unlikely that more mainstream EV manufacturers will compete in the event, though it must be said that mainstream motorcycle manufacturers with electric motorcycles and scooters in the works, such as Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW and KTM all passed on the opportunity to make history with the first TTxGP race at the Isle of Man a few years back.
Who might participate in such an electric car racing series?
The fastest electric race car in the world at the moment is KleenSpeed's EV-X11 (pictured) and the company has already indicated it will become involved in the championship. There are however a number of intending large volume EV distributors with race efforts in other fields.
You only get to make history by winning the first race once so the 2013 Formula E championship represents a significant PR opportunity.
Hence a concerted EV race effort might yield a competitive advantage in the EV road car field.
The most potential probably exists at the Renault-Nissan Alliance, and Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti which will almost certainly produce an EV shortly. The alliance already has more roadgoing EVs in production than any other manufacturer - the Renault Twizy ZE, Renault Kangoo ZE range of commercial vehicles, the Renault Fluence ZE and Renault Zoe ZE, plus Nissan's LEAF. Renault is also the company that has produced the winning Formula 1 car engine for the last two years, and a very healthy technical and marketing relationship with Red Bull Racing. A relationship with Red Bull Racing to tackle EV racing would also bring into play the services of Adrian Newey, the most successful designer of racing cars in Formula One history.
Any manufacturer with an eye on the future EV road market would probably find advantage in going EV racing to snare the important first mover advantage in a high profile race series - Tesla and Toyota, BMW, Mercedes/smart, BMW/MINI, Honda, Audi, Tata, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler/Fiat could all benefit.
The FIA is finalizing the Technical Terms and Conditions that will form the basis of a new Call for Expressions of Interest which is expected in the first quarter of 2012. Each manufacturer will be requested to produce a minimum number of cars in order to guarantee a minimum field, and a "balance of performance" system would be put in place in order to guarantee the sporting interest of the Championship.
This Call for Expressions of Interest will be issued to identify and shortlist (at the latest in April 2012) those manufacturers that are in a position to commit to take part in the 2013 FIA Formula E Championship, either directly or/and via teams.