Volvo Eyeing Increased Presence In Formula E
Already involved in an advisory capacity, Swedish automaker could launch its own racing teamby Kirby Garlitos, on
Add Volvo to the growing number of automakers looking into increasing its presence into Formula E. Word from Motorsport indicates that the Swedish automaker is currently evaluating its involvement in the new electric racing series with its own performance division Polestar. There’s no concrete plan on what this all means, but considering that Volvo already participates in the Formula E Manufacturers’ Advisory Group, an “increased presence” likely means becoming an electric powertrain supplier to incumbent teams or launching its own team altogether.
Volvo’s reported interest in increasing its involvement in Formula E isn’t a new occurrence in the fledgling racing series. In recent months, other automakers have expressed similar sentiments. That list includes BMW and Nissan, both of which have also expressed interest in joining Formula E, as per a report from Autosport back in July 2016. Neither company have specified their respective intents on the matter, but it’s worth noting that BMW is also part of the same advisory group as Volvo. The German automaker, together with Rimac, also provides support vehicles in the series, including the i8 Safety Car.
In the event that Volvo does launch a bid to field its own racing team in Formula E, it would join Renault, Peugeot-Citroen, Audi, Jaguar, and Mahindra on the grid in future seasons. That doesn’t include BMW and Nissan, both of whom have their own respective issues to deal with before it can fully jump on board and join the growing electric racing series.
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Why it matters
This points to one important thing about Formula E that a lot of automakers are slowly but surely becoming increasingly aware of. The electric racing series could very well be the future of motor racing. That may sound blasphemous to purists of Formula One but considering the path that the auto industry is taking towards placing a huge importance on electrification, that’s going to have a massive effect on the importance of Formula E.
Consider one of the biggest reasons why companies like Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes have become pillars of Formula One. A big part of that is because the technologies that they develop for Formula One are being adapted for production use. These automakers aren’t racing for racing’s sake; they’re racing because they also want to get an edge over the competition in terms of the technologies they can adapt for road use.
Now take into account the rising importance of EV technology and ask yourself, “could the same thing happen to Formula E?” The answer is a resounding yes. That’s a big reason why companies like Renault, Peugeot-Citroen, and Audi are already heavily involved in Formula E. They recognized the opportunity that lay before them and they’re taking full advantage of it. Companies like Volvo, BMW, and Nissan are becoming aware of this too and that’s why there are all these reports indicating that all three automakers are looking into becoming more invested in the electric racing series.
If electrification isn’t as big in the auto industry as it is now, I have no doubt that Formula E wouldn’t be as popular as it is. But that’s where the industry is headed and Formula E showed up at the exact right time to fully capitalize on the shifting future of the auto industry. BMW, Nissan, and Volvo are the first new names being attached to entering Formula E. But they won’t be the last; that much you can take to the bank.