A few giant German automakers and motorsports monsters have recently decided to ditch traditional racing for electric racing. But British automaker Jaguar has been in Formula E for one season already and is hoping it will pay off when its first all-electric SUV hits the showrooms next year.
At every Formula E race, Jaguar brings along a bright red I-Pace concept and places it in plain sight, next to the racing team’s I-Type racecar. “The two have to be together,” says Alain Leynaert from Jaguar Canada’s I-Pace product team. “The racecar will help sell the production car.”
While the I-Pace has no debut date or price yet, it has been green-lit for production and is expected sometime next year. Customers have put money down on Jaguar’s upcoming electric SUV and Leynaert says the Formula E participation has a lot to do with it. “The timing is right as well, especially seeing luxury car competitors Mercedes, Porsche, and Audi announcing their move to Formula E, people are going to see that we’re here already in Formula E, and we’ll look like a leader in that way.”
Granted, the Jaguar-Panasonic Racing team hasn’t been particularly successful in its first full season of Formula E, but it is facing competitors that have two years more experience in the sport. And while that may sound discouraging, all the lessons learned on the track go straight to Jaguar and help with the development and fine tuning of the upcoming Jaguar I-Pace, the brand’s first all-electric vehicle, which happens to be a crossover. Reserve driver Ho-Pin Tung also reiterated that during the Montreal ePrix, there’s a lot of information going back to the manufacturer.
It also helps that Panasonic is the main sponsor of the Jaguar racing team and is a strong force in automotive electronics and batteries. In the world of EVs, Panasonic is best known for supplying batteries to Tesla and its gigafactory. Jaguar is hoping that combining Panasonic’s battery expertise with the on-track experience from the Jaguar Panasonic Racing team will lead to a more complete and successful Jaguar I-Pace electric vehicle.