TOP BRANDS EYE FORMULA E ENTRIES IN THE FUTURE
BMW and Nissan in talks to join
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.