Three seasons in, the Formula E electric-car racing series is finally starting to attract major attention from large carmakers.
As the season’s opening race got underway in Hong Kong over the weekend, Formula E boasted new entries from carmakers and promises from several more to expand their participation or to launch new teams.
The Hong Kong race marked the debut of teams from both Jaguar and Chinese-backed startup Faraday Future.
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Jaguar Land Rover announced its intention to join Formula E in December 2015, and unveiled its I-Type 1 race car last month.
It is collaborating with Panasonic—currently the sole battery supplier to luxury electric-car maker Tesla Motors—on the Jaguar Panasonic Racing team.
Faraday Future, meanwhile, hooked up with the existing Dragon Racing team, which has been re-branded Faraday Future Dragon Racing.
2016/2017 Faraday Future Dragon Racing Formula E race car
The company’s role will essentially limited to that of a sponsor at first, but Faraday says it may provide powertrain components to the team in upcoming seasons.
Along with the addition of Jaguar and Faraday Future, Audi plans to expand its involvement in Formula E over the next few seasons.
ALSO SEE: Formula E Electric-Car Racing Series Gains Jaguar As Contender (Dec 2015)
It’s been involved with Formula E since the series’ first season, as a partner of the ABT Schaeffler team.
The German carmaker loaned ABT Schaeffler one of its drivers—Lucas di Grassi—and gave the team access to certain facilities.
2016/2017 Formula E Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport race car
But starting with the 2017-18 season, Audi plans to upgrade its Formula E efforts to a fully factory-backed program.
BMW will soon launch its own partnership with the Andretti team, and may enter its own factory team in the series for the 2018-19 season.
MORE: How Does Formula E Electric-Car Racing Work? What You Need To Know (Feb 2014)
By then, BMW and Audi may end up competing with German rival Mercedes-Benz, which has taken an option to enter Formula E in 2018.
In addition to these carmakers, DS, Mahindra, Chinese startup NextEV, Renault, and Venturi are already involved in Formula E to some extent.
Renault participated in the design of the standardized chassis currently mandated for use by all teams under the series’ rules.
Expected rule changes would allow teams to design their own chassis, and might be one reason why more carmakers are showing interest in Formula E.
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The current Formula E season includes 12 races in cities around the world—including a double header in New York City tentatively scheduled for July.
Each race—or “ePrix,” as organizers call them—is held on a temporary street circuit, usually in a city’s downtown area.
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