With the all-new iPace series soon to launch in the Formula E championship, a new era is burgeoning for the viability of electric car racing.
Just to keep score, the all-electric Formula E championship continues to grow within the OEM ranks, currently hosting efforts from Audi, Jaguar, BMW and Renault, with several other manufacturers rumored to be keen on it as well.
New to the series, however, will be the launch of an undercard series, the all-electric iPace championship comprised of single-make electric Jaguar sedans.
Why is this significant? It signals the beginning of a customer era.
To shed some light, many major manufacturers hold their own one-make support series in conventional forms of racing, and it’s largely considered to be a profit center. Catered at entry level “customer” racing, one-make series are currently offered by Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mazda, as well as Audi in Europe.
The theme is consistent through all of them. The same car for everyone, racing against other entry level customers.
It’s an effective model due to the balance of paying customers vs. development costs. Put simply, since the car is not competing against other manufacturers, an OEM doesn’t have to pour the investment in to development in the way it does professional racing, instead focusing on reliability and customer experience.
With less invested in to car development, the return is also vast as dozens to hundreds of new cars are sold annually, and being catered to amateurs, the high likelihood of incidents and mistakes also means an endless sale of replacement parts to damaged vehicles. It’s an effective way to keep your brand out there, keep your customers brand loyal, and sell some cars.
Visibly absent from this form of racing has been Jaguar, who clearly sees the opportunity to capitalize on the potential in electric racing to be the first to market with a one-make electric sedan series.
It’s a sensible move, but also a large indicator that electric racing is a viable customer platform.