Having just completed its third season, Formula E has never been so popular, with manufacturers. Whilst the new series is yet to really capture the viewing public’s imagination, for the moment it has captured the motor industry manufacturers.
While it is true that Formula E has now spent three years racing in front of sparse crowds and struggling for viewing figures, many predict that over the next few years it will boast far more manufacturers that Formula One. The series already has Renault, Jaguar and Audi involved, soon BMW will join the fold and they will soon be followed by Mercedes and Porsche, as the latter two decided to quit established series DTM [German Touring Cars] and the World Endurance Championship in order to concentrate their efforts on Formula E. The announcement that Porsche would end its successful Le Mans program, and race in Formula E instead was a bombshell and led to many discussions regarding the future of the electric-powered cars’s series.
So whilst the racing and viewership is not at a standard to inflict too much damage on Formula One, the technology aspect has got manufacturers interest perked and they’ve entered into Formula E.
Ferrari is more closely associated with racing than just about any other automaker in the world, but for the moment the Italian team has opted not to join Formula E and this decision is a weighty one. Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne is also head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which is still more or less Ferrari’s parent company even after a stock sale separated the two entities on paper and the Italian-Canadian executive recently said that one of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ other brands may enter Formula E in the near future:
“However, we are thinking of doing so as FCA” – Sergio Marchionne explained, when asked to comment on a possible Formula E entry – “And if we will enter, with one of the brands from the group, we do not know which one it will be right now.”
Aside from Ferrari, FCA has curtailed its racing efforts lately, so there is no other brand heavily involved in motor sports that would be an obvious choice. Given Dodge’s current obsession with gas guzzling V8 muscle cars, it would be hilarious to see the American brand troll everyone by joining Formula E. But that probably will not happen. Alfa Romeo has a solid racing history, and performance is a big part of the brand’s marketing, but it has no real electric-car plans either.
However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has another storied Italian brand in its lineup. Maserati is also strongly associated with racing, and Sergio Marchionne recently said the automaker would begin electrifying its model lineup in 2019, and might sell only electrified cars after that. Even if these new Maseratis are plug-in hybrids rather than all-electric cars, Formula E might be a good way to promote them.