Jaguar has launched its bid to enter the third season of the FIA Formula E racing championship later this year after it revealed a new I-Type racecar said to help the British brand forge a leading path with production electric sports cars in the future.
The slinky I-Type was developed by the newly formed Panasonic Jaguar Racing Team, and will be driven by 22-year-old Mitch Evans from New Zealand, 33-year-old Adam Carroll from Northern Ireland and 33-year-old Ho Pin-Tung from China in the all-electric championship that kicks off in Hong Kong in October.
Drivers have completed 21 days of testing the i-Type, concluding at the UK’s Donnington circuit this week.
Jaguar claims it is Britain’s largest research and development investor, and its latest ‘race to innovate’ strategy is pinned around a mission to change public perception of electric vehicles as they enter the mass market in increasing numbers.
Perhaps surprisingly for a brand most renowned for supercharged petrol soundtracks, Jaguar’s racing bid openly reflects its desire to push a greater number of electric cars into production more quickly.
“The real exciting hope is transforming people’s beliefs in electric cars and really promoting that revolution of the electric vehicle is really, really coming incredibly fast,” Jaguar Land Rover executive director of product engineering Nick Rogers said at the UK launch event.
“Over the next five years we will see more changes in the automotive world than in the last three decades. The championship will enable us to engineer and test our advanced technologies under extreme performance conditions. We will apply this vital knowledge as part of our real world development.”
It could mean the letter ‘i’ might replace ‘f’ at some point in Jaguar’s production car range.
“Electric cars are going to be part of our future and it [I-Type] is the lead into that,” Jaguar Australia’s senior public affairs executive James Scrimshaw told MOTOR.
“Once we make an announcement about what our next cars are it will make sense, but this is an early stage and a learning bed for what we’re doing,” he further teased.
Jaguar Australia also hopes the I-Type could make it Down Under in the 2017 or 2018 season of Formula-E, with the company campaigning to have a racetrack added to the event calendar.
“It’s something we’ve been hoping and asking for, it would mean a lot for us to have the race series here and take people to it and actually see the real car in life,” Scrimshaw said.
“There’s no Australian track yet but I know they’re hoping to get something here and that would be great for us.”