Formula E’s growth

Despite the many noted flaws of Formula E, mentioned by motorsport fans whenever the subject of the series is mentioned. It is hard to ignore the ever growing presence the series which began in 2014 now holds on the world stage of motorsport. 

The series has seen four announcements in recent months all with manufacturers who are announcing new or expanded resources towards a Formula E programme, in either 2018 or 2019.

Parent company to Mercedes-Benz, Daimler announced yesterday that Mercedes Benz will end an eighteen-year commitment to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series at the conclusion of the 2018 season to compete in Formula E starting in 2019 alongside a continuation of their highly successful Formula One programme.  

Audi and BMW have over the past few weeks announced a step-up in their respective Formula E commitments. BMW moving from technical partner to fully fledged manufacturer with Andretti Autosport, whilst Audi is increasing the relationship it holds with ABT into a larger factory programme for 2018.  Renault and Jaguar Land Rover already hold full factory commitments in the series under the guise of Renault E.Dams and Panasonic Jaguar Racing respectively, whilst PSA Peugeot-Citroen is involved through a technical relationship between Virgin Racing and Citroen sub brand ‘DS Automobiles’.

Meanwhile, the Indian conglomerate, Mahindra has announced it will bring an end to the companies Moto2 motorcycle racing commitments to focus resources on their growing Formula E effort, Mahindra Racing. 

In addition to these huge manufacturer commitments, the series has several small scale privateer/car manufacturers involved and constant rumours of more manufacturers, about to join the series.  So why is Formula E proving so attractive to manufacturers? We have seen manufacturer interest grow in series before and then flounder as quick as it comes, to the point that it is almost a life-cycle of a series, including recently in the FIA WEC.

Formula E seems different though in this respect. The process of entry and the volume of doing so is larger than we’ve seen elsewhere in some time. Manufacturers aren’t spending years evaluating the entry; Instead, they are jumping on board rather quickly for a series barely established in the motorsport world. Is this a problem? Can it lead to an arms race that has seen the end of so many manufacturer programmes across the world throughout motorsport history or is Formula E’s restrictive technical regulations preventing this?

Should ‘traditional’ motorsport series be threatened by Formula E’s fast growth and attraction for manufacturers who are heading in the series direction and away from traditional platforms like DTM and LMP1? Can the ‘traditional’ series compete or do they need to accept that Formula E has a unique selling point at the present time and continue their own course of action? Is Formula E even viewed as a threat, or as something complementary to traditional motorsport series?  Finally is the timing just perfect for Formula E with scandals like ‘dieselgate’ and other mitigating circumstances for an alternative energy series to swoop and attract manufacturers and therefore the growth not sustainable?

Your thoughts, please.