The category, expected to make its debut at the end of 2018, will feature as a support category for the fifth season of the FIA’s all-electric Formula E championship.
It’s another feather in the cap for Formula E, which now boasts a whopping 10 factory-supported teams and has attracted the likes of Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and McLaren to its (near) silent breed of racing.
Jaguar joined the category in 2016, and is now investing further with the one-make support series, dubbed the eTrophy, racing at every round of the 2018/19 Formula E calendar.
This means a field of 20 electric SUVs will be bumping body panels on street circuits around the world, in city centres from Hong Kong to New York.
The category is for amateur ‘gentlemen drivers’, with Jaguar providing ‘arrive and drive’ packages. The field of paying customers will be joined on the grid by a new VIP driver at each round.
The Jaguar I-Pace race cars will be built by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) in Warwickshire, UK, and will be based on the production car due in late 2018.
"We've always said we want to prove our electrification technologies on the track – this is the proof,” Gerd Mäuser, Chairman, Jaguar Racing, said
“I am looking forward to seeing a full grid of Jaguar I-Pace racecars in late 2018, soon after the first Jaguar I-PACE hits the road in Europe.
“Ultimately this innovative series will enhance the technology in our future electric vehicles and benefit our customers.”
Jaguar says a typical race weekend for the eTrophy will consist of free practice, qualifying sessions, and a 30-minute race – a decent length of full-throttle action for an electric drivetrain.
Technical specifications of the cars, full race calendar, and costs for the eTrophy will be released next year.
It’d be easy to be cynical about a racing series that exclusively features electric SUVs – it doesn’t exactly scream excitement in the sense of traditional motorsport. But don’t dismiss the category completely too soon.
One-make categories are legendary for producing close and exciting racing, throw in a production body which will be capable of plenty of door-to-door action, and the eTrophy could be just the recipe electric motorsport needed to build a bigger audience.
Of course, there will be downsides, namely a lack of excitement in terms of noise, and potentially outright speed. But some of the best motorsport events in the world aren’t necessarily the fastest.