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Is the future bright for electric motorsports? The answer might surprise you…

Is the future bright for electric motorsports? The answer might surprise you…

A few years ago, the birth of Formula E was argued to be the dawn of a new era. The only single-seater electric racing series in the world, it promised a platform to manufacturers to harness and showcase their e-mobility credentials to a younger, more environmentally-focused generation. 

Then came Electric GT, which disappeared, then reappeared, in several different guises. Extreme E launched to bring awareness to the impacts of climate change by racing in locations affected by it.  

And recently, the inaugural season of PURE ETCR’s came to a close with a thrilling season finale in which five drivers were eligible to claim the crown with the world’s most powerful touring cars. Joining forces with WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup, PURE ETCR was able to host its final race at the Pau-Arnos E-Circuit in France. It was a successful weekend for SQN’s client Hyundai Motorsport; the team was crowned Manufacturer of the Weekend with Jean-Karl Vernay and Augusto Farfus topping the Driver of the Weekend standings after a fantastic outing in France. 

But with only three manufacturers committing to the first year of the series, and several manufacturers departing Formula E, is electric racing in dire straits? 

In short, we think not. Yes, the aesthetic of the newly-crowned FIA Formula E World Champion teams’ champion, Mercedes-Benz EQ, departing the series after only two seasons isn’t great. Despite the brand revealing it will offer an all-electric road car line-up by 2030 just two months ago, in which it will invest almost €40 billion, Mercedes-Benz has elected to reallocate resources away from its FE programme and instead apply lessons learned in competition to its product development. 

Formula E quickly built up a reputation for exciting racing in its formative years, however, the need to swap cars halfway through the race was not the right image the series needed to portray if it wanted to promote the benefits of e-mobility. Its second-generation cars were built to last an entire 45-minute race, but without the need for a pit-stop, its Attack Mode implementation has attracted both admirers and retractors. There is still plenty of opportunities for the series to regain ground and attract more manufacturers to compete, yet there is a lingering suspicion that companies are looking to series with closer relevance to their road-going offering. 

This is where PURE ETCR could thrive. It is the first electric racing car series where manufacturers could showcase their electric mobility capabilities with top-class drivers competing in cars that customers could buy – the old “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” adage. With a direct resemblance to road-going counterparts, PURE ETCR has the potential to offer a platform in a way that Formula E has struggled to do.  

Motorsport has always been a window for manufacturers to develop new technologies and sell their products. Most of the technologies that make modern cars efficient, safe and reliable are derived from ideas designed to improve performance on the racetrack. The FIA Formula 1 World Championship has always been the standard-bearer for global motorsport, elite racing, and the use of road-related technologies. However, with the conversation around electric vehicles quickly gaining ground as the world looks to find ways to limit the impact of climate change, electric motorsport needs to step into F1’s shoes and be the leading test-bed for e-mobility solutions of the future. 

PURE ETCR’s inaugural season offered close, exciting, and unpredictable racing. Although it may have its critics, it certainly turned some heads too. With manufacturers looking for new ways to hone their electric capabilities and showcase their products to new audiences, PURE ETCR can charge ahead of the rest as it grows in grid size and audience. The series has a lot to offer, and its future certainly looks bright.