BMW and Nis­san in talks to join

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Scott Mitchell Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, LAT

BMW and Nis­san are in talks with ex­ist­ing For­mula E teams to join the elec­tric sin­gle-seater cham­pi­onship as early as next sea­son.

Nis­san, which culled its LMP1 pro­gramme late last year, is con­duct­ing a “fact-find­ing” mis­sion into the se­ries as part of an eval­u­a­tion of its long-term mo­tor­sport strat­egy.

Ap­proval is needed from the Re­naultNis­san Al­liance – the part­ner­ship that over­sees the in­ter­ests of the two brands and six oth­ers within the group – to al­low the two makes to com­pete in the same cat­e­gory, in which the French mar­que cur­rently leads the driv­ers’ and teams’ cham­pi­onship.

A BMW spokesman said it does not com­ment on spec­u­la­tion but re­it­er­ated its sup­ply of i3 and i8 course cars since sea­son one has been a way of keep­ing close tabs on the cat­e­gory.

Should Nis­san or BMW com­mit to en­ter­ing FE for the 2016/17 cam­paign, nei­ther would have an im­me­di­ate in­flu­ence on pow­er­train tech­nol­ogy.

The Ger­man mar­que has made it clear the cham­pi­onship’s de­pen­dence on mid-race car swaps is a de­ter­rent. A new chas­sis, big­ger bat­tery and ad­vanced bat­tery cell tech­nol­ogy should al­low the se­ries to move to one car per driver for the fifth sea­son.

One op­tion for BMW would there­fore be to part­ner an ex­ist­ing team while de­vel­op­ing tech­nol­ogy for a fully-fledged en­try for the 2018/19 cam­paign.

Nis­san’s sit­u­a­tion is sim­pler. As no fi­nal de­ci­sion has been made, the short lead-time means a com­mer­cial tie-up would be its only re­al­is­tic chance of be­ing part of the 2016/17 grid.

Those ad­di­tions would mean man­u­fac­turer pres­ence in nine of the 10 For­mula E en­tries. Re­nault, DS (PSA Peu­geot Citroen’s lux­ury brand), elec­tric ve­hi­cle spe­cial­ist Ven­turi, In­dian make Mahin­dra and emerg­ing Chi­nese EV com­pany NEXTEV are in­volved al­ready. Abt has an af­fil­i­a­tion with Audi, and the Volk­swa­gen Group is thought to be eval­u­at­ing greater in­volve­ment. Bri­tish mar­que Jaguar will join the se­ries in sea­son three.

Two of the re­main­ing three in­de­pen­dent teams – Amer­i­can out­fits An­dretti Au­tosport and Dragon Rac­ing – have long since started the process of pro­duc­ing their own pow­er­trains. The fi­nal in­de­pen­dent, An­glo-ja­panese out­fit Team Aguri, is close to con­firm­ing a Re­nault pow­er­train sup­ply.

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