Porsche joins rush to electric racing

Le Mans winners quit sports cars for electric single seaters.

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Porsche has become the third car manufacturer in 10 days to commit its motorsport future to the electric Formula E Championship.

At the end of the 2017 season the German brand will end its involvement in the LMP1 endurance sports car category of the FIA World Endurance Championship, which brought Porsche its 19th victory in the Le Mans 24hr race, and its third in a row, in June. However Porsche will continue to campaign the 911 RSR in the GT class of the FIA WEC, which includes Le Mans.

The Porsche Formula E team will be a works operation competing from 2019, and work has already begun on developing the car. It is thought that the team will most likely enter from the start of Formula E’s 2019-2020 season – each season in the series runs across the winter, starting in around October and ending in around August.

‘Ultimate competitive environment’

According to Porsche research and development head Michael Steiner, going Formula E racing sits well with the brand’s Mission E programme which will see the development of pure GT vehicles and fully electric sports cars, including the first fully battery-powered Mission E road car. “The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us”, Steiner says. “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”.

It is intended, however, to keep the successful LMP1 team fully intact, including retaining the team’s drivers. “Alongside ventures in other racing series and the intensive preparation for Formula E, Porsche is examining other fields of application and development areas,” the Porsche release states.

Porsche’s move follows similar announcements from BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the last 10 days. Mercedes plans to go to Formula E has left major questions over the future of the German DTM Series, which it is withdrawing from. The Porsche move will put the WEC LMP1 category in a similar position, with Toyota left as the sole remaining manufacturer entry.

Formula E Berlin
Formula E’s clean, sustainable image, which includes racing on temporary city-centre tracks as here in Berlin, is attracting manufacturers.

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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