Jaguar Announces New Electric Car, Formula E Race Team

Coventry launches its first global motorsport program in more than a decade (and hints at a new, all-electric future).

Renault. Audi. Peugeot. All have devoted resources to establishing a presence in Formula E, the fledgling all-electric Grand Prix racing series, over the past three years. Now, a British marque will be joining those ranks. Jaguar has announced its return to global motorsport next year by way of a new Formula E team, as well as its intention to build a road-going electric vehicle.

This is a big deal for both the series and automaker. Jaguar is in need of a cohesive plan for sustainability, having scrapped the hybrid C-X75 hypercar project and geared up for a diesel model onslaught at the worst possible moment. The company’s chief engineer Nick Rogers confirmed that “electric vehicles will definitely play a role… in future product portfolio” during the Formula E team announcement. Rogers didn’t go into details, but Jag’s first all-electric model will likely be an SUV, a Tesla Model X rival, and arrive sometime next year.

Formula E, now in its second season, hasn’t landed squarely in the hardcore motorsports fan base, but is positioning itself as a preeminent proving ground for future tech. A coherent tie between podium and product makes racing a justifiable expense for manufacturers. In the electrified future, Formula E could become the sport easiest to reconcile with corporate agendas: It offers live stress testing of batteries, drivetrains, charging, an valuable tool for R&D.

Jaguar has won Le Mans seven times, and successfully campaigned touring cars during the early Eighties. This will be its first factory-backed race effort since withdrawing from Formula 1 in 2004.