Porsche on Friday confirmed plans to enter the Formula E Championship with its own factory-backed team starting in the 2019/2020 season, the electric car racing series’ sixth.
Sadly, as had been reported earlier this week, Porsche will be ending its LMP1 campaign in the World Endurance Championship at the end of the current 2017 season to free up resources for the new endeavor.
Porsche will still be competing in the WEC, including at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, albeit only in the GT classes for production-based cars. It means Toyota will be the sole manufacturer in the WEC’s premier LMP1 class, though there are rumors Peugeot may make a return. Without another manufacturer, the LMP1 class may have to be disbanded.
Porsche says the realignment of its motorsport activities reflects the company’s plans to deliver both GT and fully electric road cars in the near future. Porsche is already working on its first electric car due towards the end of the decade. It will be a production version of 2015’s Mission E concept car.
“Porsche is working with alternative, innovative drive concepts,” Porsche’s R&D boss, Michael Steiner, said in a statement. “For us, Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high-performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency and sustainability.”
Steiner also revealed that Porsche has already taken the first steps towards developing its own Formula E race car.
Formula E, whose first round was held in 2014, is the world’s first sanctioned race series for fully electric cars. Currently, each team uses chassis and powertrains from independent suppliers. They also use two cars per driver as the batteries don’t hold enough charge to last the full race.
From season five, teams will only be using one car per driver thanks to advancement in battery technology. Teams will still be using supplied batteries and chassis, with the latter taking on a new, futuristic look from season five. The teams will be responsible for their own powertrain, transmission, suspension and software systems, however.
With Porsche and Mercedes set to join Formula E in the 2019/2020 season, the electric car series will have 12 teams lining up on the grid, two more than currently in Formula 1. Other automakers already competing in Formula E are DS, Faraday Future, Jaguar, Mahindra, Nio (formerly NextEV), Renault and Venturi.
Porsche will be leaving the WEC’s LMP1 class as the top team. After rejoining endurance racing’s top echelon in 2014, Porsche has racked up three-straight victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and championship titles in both the team and driver classification in 2015 and 2016. Porsche is also on track to earn the team and driver titles in 2017.
Over at Formula E, we’re in the final stages of the 2016/2017 season, the series’ third. The championship will host the final two rounds of the season in Montreal starting this weekend. Currently leading the championship is Renault e.Dams and its star driver Sebastian Buemi.