Jaguar is back and raring to go… electric

Eddie Irvine, Johnny Herbert, Mark Webber and Justin Wilson are some of the world-class drivers who raced for the Jaguar Racing Formula 1 team.

However, results in Formula 1 did not come easy for the prestigious and historic automotive brand, claiming a best place of seventh in the constructors’ championship for three consecutive years, 2002 to 2004.

After the 2004 season, Jaguar Racing’s parent company, Ford Motors, decided they would no longer continue their investment in Formula 1 and it was the last year Jaguar had a racing team – until now.

Twelve years after their five-year flirt with Formula 1, Jaguar have decided to reunite their passion for racing and return, but this time swapping the roar of a turbocharged V6 1.6L engine for a purring eco-friendly electric motor.

Electric dreams now a reality

Jaguar believe the future of road cars is electric and have already shown signs of their commitment to investing in alternative power trains. In 2011, Jaguar unveiled their first petrol-electric plug-in hybrid supercar in the UK, the Jaguar C-X75, featured as the villain’s car in the Bond movie Spectre. It was a concept car that was turned into reality.

It is stupidly fast and powerful, and it can thank its hybrid powertrain for that. The combination of the four electric motors, one per wheel, working together with the turbocharged and supercharged 1.6-litre engine means the C-X75 has a whopping 850bhp and can do 0 to 62mph in a mere 3.4 seconds.

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The next step is to go fully electric. James Barclay, Jaguar’s Formula E team director, says: “Formula E will provide a real-world test bed for potential future electric technology allowing Jaguar Land Rover engineers to assess electric battery and motor performance under performance conditions.

“This was such an important decision for Jaguar and we wanted to get it right”

“With races in major cities and a young, urban audience, Formula E will help us to reach the next generation of Jaguar drivers.

“Jaguar cars are renowned for their performance and we want to ensure that future vehicles meet our customers’ high expectations, no matter what the power source.”

Partnership to success

Although Jaguar is a new manufacturer to the sport, they do have a secret weapon that will be key to their success. They’ve partnered with Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), who are also development partners of Formula E, and engineered and supply the homologated battery to all the teams. WAE and Jaguar have already enjoyed success together with their partnership on the C-X75 supercar.

Gary Ekerold, previously operations manager at WAE and a familiar face in the Formula E pit lane, will lead the technical partnership as sporting manager of the Jaguar Formula E team, which is due to take to the track at the start of next season on October 8 in Hong Kong.

The team are yet to release the names of the drivers who will race for the team, although it’s thought the UK-based car maker will feature at least one British driver and one driver with previous experience of the electric racing championship to ensure they hit the ground running.

Jaguar’s aim is to take everything they learn on the track and transfer the technology to the road. Nick Rogers, group engineering director for Jaguar Land Rover, concludes: “Electric vehicles will absolutely play a role in Jaguar Land Rover’s future product portfolio and Formula E will give us a unique opportunity to further our development of electrification technologies. The championship will enable us to engineer and test our advanced technologies under extreme performance conditions.

“It is my belief that over the next five years we will see more changes in the automotive world than in the last three decades. The future is about being more connected and more sustainable; electrification and lightweight technologies are becoming more important than ever as urbanisation continues to increase.”