When the legendary car designer Ian Callum and Jaguar unveiled the new Jaguar I-Pace on September 21, 2017, in Detroit at the Art of Performance Tour, testing was quietly already underway in preparations for a major announcement made today at the LA Auto Show.
With the addition of the eTROPHY series to Formula E racing for the 2018 season, Jaguar Racing announced the first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY race team for this global electric racing series led by three-time IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal. Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) in Warwickshire, UK, are building the race cars and offering ‘Arrive and Drive’ packages for up to 20 drivers at each race. The racecars are based on the Jaguar brand’s first battery electric road car, the Jaguar I-PACE, which will be released for sale in 2018.
Starting in December 2018, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will join the grid in the world’s first production-based electric vehicle race series. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan team announcement comes ahead of the start of the FIA Formula E championship and season-opening race in Hong Kong this weekend, where Panasonic Jaguar Racing will be on the track with drivers Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mitch Evans for the 2017-18 season.
The Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY is a support series to the FIA Formula E Championship and the first to be based off of a street-legal production battery electric vehicle. Races will take place the same weekend, and on the same city street circuits, throughout the 2018-19 season.
Within the action sports and racing industry, progression and innovation has always been a core value for growth and success. Whether it is a new trick landed or the skill to push the racecar or motorcycle in the race to its utmost ability, zero-emission motorsports signals a massive shift of focus for several racing industries.
Today electric technology growth and progression has allowed for racing to develop powerful electric powered cars as well as motorcycles able to compete side by side with traditional motor-driven machines.
“Innovation is integral to motorsports and electric car racing is an important part of the future so this opportunity came at the perfect time for RLL,” said Rahal, Team Principal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. “As a former driver and Team Owner, I look forward to beginning this next phase of racing and the success and challenges that come with it. The driver is always the quarterback but to be the coach comes with a great deal of responsibility. A race team is like a small business but with immediate results. You do not need to wait for quarterly sales reports to know how you are doing. Every lap is a business report and it is my job to make sure that the business succeeds and grows. What is so special about being a part of the Jaguar team is the autonomy to run the business as I see fit. Racing is my passion. Jaguar Racing is involved in so many places where racing and innovation occurs. Jaguar puts RLL in a position to spread the passion of racing internationally and push the growth of zero-emission and electric motorsports.”
Additionally, Jaguar Land Rover has shown their commitment to electric racing through their strategy from 2020 and beyond. Beginning in 2020, all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles launched will be offered with an electrified/electric powertrain embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles.
To this point in the action sports/racing industry, there is still a stigma of electric cars and what limitations they have.
With this announcement and by showcasing the power of electricity through their future race team in eTROPHY and the current Formula E team, Jaguar is set to change your opinion and show how it will benefit you as a consumer.
“The automotive industry moves at an incredible pace in the development of new cars especially ones that are powered by electricity,” said Marion Barnaby, spokesperson for Jaguar Racing. “For us being the first premium brand involved in Formula E in the first season last year, allowed us to be involved well ahead of other manufacturers at the moment. That experience and other racing developments have allowed us to be able to create a worlds first electric race car that will be featured in the eTROPHY series. The knowledge gained from racing in Formula E and having an entire in-house team from design to engineering through testing puts Jaguar and our racing programs at the forefront of innovation and progression. Having this be completely in-house is special to us because everyone has a vested interest in success no matter what your role in the company is. We all are committed to innovation and progression and in turn that allows us to find success on and off the track. The success that we find through the development in this series will further our ability to provide better technology in the cars available to consumers.”
The Formula E and eTROPHY circuits are unique in that the course is placed within the center of the city in places all over the world.
“Growing the community of racing and fans of racing is important and critical for survival in the industry,” said Barnaby. With the eTROPHY and Formula E series being in the city center, each race brings different demographics and different spectators. The race and the activities around the race in the community will allow us as a brand to reach so many different types of people to showcase the power of Jaguar and what racing is the joy of racing is all about. As the eTROPHY series begins next year and the constant evolution of Formula E provides a huge opportunity for growth and development from a race team perspective as well new fans of racing.”
“In 2018 customers will be able to drive their Jaguar I-PACE battery electric vehicles on the road, while also watching them race in cities around the globe including venues such as New York and Montreal by top-flight race teams like Rahal Letterman Lanigan,” said Joe Eberhardt, President and CEO, Jaguar Land Rover North America. “We look forward to demonstrating the exciting performance credentials of the coming generation of battery electric vehicles with both the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team and others as they join the eTROPHY Series.”
While a team for eTROPHY is yet to be announced, Rahal expects RLL to showcase several premier drivers like the current Panasonic Jaguar Formula E team.
“I have no doubt that my phone will ring non-stop with drivers and others wanting to be involved with our eTROPHY team,” said Rahal. “It will be interesting and exciting. This will definitely be a place that veteran drivers and young driver will want to be.”
“Being able to attach such a strong duo of drivers in Nelson and Mitch shows that Jaguar Racing is a powerful brand but most importantly it shows the confidence level that premier drivers want to be involved in our racing programs and the development of future success with our eTROPHY team,” said Barnaby. “Currently we enjoy a great pair of drivers that help us innovate and develop the cars to be stronger on the track through their feedback, Jaguar Racing has put so much advanced engineering into the cars and we expect to have a great season this year and in years to come.”
With other premium manufactures not entering teams into the eTROPHY series yet, why was it important for Jaguar to make this move now?
“We want to always be looking forward to what’s next and even be the manufacturer that creates that groundbreaking project,” said Barnaby. “Formula E as a series is always evolving. For us to be involved always allows us to push ourselves in development and find ways to remain at the forefront of premium auto brands.”
Rahal echoed similar sentiments.
“While we currently have Formula E, this new series eTROPHY, this will only be the beginning of what is to come from electric racing. The future of racing is strong. For us the idea of helping to evolve electric cars across the board from racecars to consumer vehicles is also special.”