Drops Out of Le Mans’ Top Tier Program
In a not totally unexpected move, Porsche said it is exiting the FIA World Endurance Championship (WFC), which includes the storied 24 Hours of Le Mans race, at the end of this year, and will compete in the all-electric FIA Formula E championship starting in season six (2019/20). The announcement came just five days after Mercedes-Benz announced it was leaving DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) racing, where it competes mainly on European road courses against its German luxury car rivals. Mercedes will also join Formula E in 2019.
Audi, which, like Porsche, is part of the Volkswagen Group, announced last October that it was quitting the WEC and Le Mans to shift resources to Formula E. Other manufacturers already involved in the electric series, whose third season ended this weekend in Montreal, Canada, include German rivals BMW as well as Renault, Jaguar, Citroen and India’s Mahindra.
The announcements by Porsche and Mercedes reflect the growing promotional importance of Formula E to automakers and for their future electric cars. Porsche’s first production electric model will be based on the Mission E concept car shown in 2015, but what Porsche learns from its factory Formula E team will likely influence all of its future electric cars.
Development & Racing
Like almost all of the other road car manufacturers who have entered the Formula E championship, Porsche will enter the pure electric race series with the interest of furthering its electric car development.
“Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E. The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us,” said Michael Steiner, board member for R&D at Porsche.
At the moment, the arrival of Porsche and Mercedes in the series for season six, will take to 12 the number of Formula E teams, but that could increase. Both Ferrari and Volvo have shown interest in the electric race series. And some of the smaller companies may not have the financial resources to continue.
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