Thursday, November 14, 2019

Another Manufacturer Joins Electric Car Racing Series

Mercedes is ditching the roar of four-liter fire-breathing V-8 engines for the hum and whine of electric motors. This isn’t a new product announcement (though they’re doing that, too), but it is related to future products. Daimler, Mercedes-Benz parent company, announced this week that it is pulling out of DTM racing, where it competes on mainly European tracks against its German luxury car rivals. The motorsports efforts will migrate starting in season six (2019/20) of the series. 

The roar of the gas V-8 will be replaced by electric motor whine

Patterned after the high-end Formula 1 series (in which Mercedes also competes), with which it shares a governing board, Formula E currently consists of 20 cars from 10 teams using standardized battery packs and  cars. Over the years participants have gradually been allowed more innovations on their powertrains, something the race series has promised to open up even more in the coming years.

That is part of the attraction for Daimler, which has announced the launch of its electric EQ sub-brand. “Formula E is a significant step in order to demonstrate the performance of our attractive battery-powered electric vehicles under the EQ technology brand,” said Dr. Jens Thiemer, vice president of marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars. “It is time to start a new path.”

The race commitment will mean Mercedes is joining Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Renault among major automakers already in the series. Given two German luxury marques are already involved, the Mercedes move should be looked at as almost a forgone conclusion.

Part of the Launch of the EQ Label

“Mercedes-Benz will market future battery powered electric vehicles using the EQ label,” explained Thiemer. “Formula E (gives) an emotional spin to our EQ technology brand through motorsport and marketing.”

Toto Wolff, managing partner of both the Formula 1 and Formula E teams, views Formula E as a brand new form of racing that reflects a rapidly changing automotive landscape.

Expect to see the Mercedes-Benz EQ brand in Formula E

“In motorsport like in every other area, we want to be the benchmark in the premium segment and to explore innovative new projects,” he said. “The combination of Formula 1 and Formula E delivers that. Formula E is like an exciting start-up venture: it offers a brand new format, combining racing with a strong event character, in order to promote current and future technologies. Electrification is happening in the road car world and Formula E offers manufacturers an interesting platform to bring this technology to a new audience – and to do so with a completely new kind of racing, different to any other series.”

It’s clear that Mercedes will be spending the next two seasons scoping out the competition and planning to make its entry in a forceful way. Given its track record in Formula 1 and DTM, in motorsports “the best or nothing” translates into a quest for trophies.

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Michael Coates is the Editor & Publisher of Smarticd and an internationally recognized expert in the field of automotive environmental issues. He has been an automotive editor and writer for more than three decades. His media experience includes Petersen Publishing (now part of the The Enthusiast Network), the Green Car Journal, trade magazines, newspaper and television news reporting. He currently serves on the board of Western Automotive Journalists and has been an organizer of that group’s Future Cars, Future Technology and Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel programs. He also serves as Automotive Editor at Innovation & Tech Today magazine.

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