Formula E Expects Number Of Manufacturers For Season Two

Formula E organizers believe the final number of manufacturers participating in the second season of the series will be less than the eight it announced in February. The all-electric racing series, which will make its U.S. debut in Miami on Saturday, will lift its restrictions and allow manufactures to develop their own innovations, beginning with the development of powertrains in '15-16.

During the inaugural '14-15 season, the 10 Formula E teams are using identical single-seaters and powertrains. Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag told SBD Global that having eight manufacturers entering the series for season two exceeded his expectations.

"I was hoping for two or three. And probably the final number will be closer to five or six at the end," he said. As a reason why he thinks the final number will be less than eight, Agag cited timing issues.

"It's a very short period of time to put together a powertrain," he said. These are all things manufacturers and teams have to figure out ahead of Formula E's second season. The most likely setup for the '15-16 season in terms of teams and manufacturers, Agag said, will be five manufactures of powertrains along with customer teams.

The customer teams will either utilize one of those five new powertrains or continue using this year's powertrain and upgrade it. Andretti Formula E, one of the eight entries on the FIA-approved list of manufactures, is wasting no time in the development of its own powertrain.

Team President, CEO & Chair Michael Andretti said, "We are flat out. There's a lot going on. That's all I can say."

Another name on the list is Formula E's official technical partner, Renault. The French carmaker, which is already competing in the series as part of the e.dams-Renault Formula E team, will be the first big European car brand to join the series as a manufacturer. Agag said that Renault Sport joining the series is very important to its future development.

"We want to promote the technology competition and big manufacturers have the big budgets to promote R&D investments of batteries and powertrains," he said. However, he cautions that Formula E does not want to become a series exclusively for big time carmakers. Agag: "We would like to have four or five big OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers] in the next several years." A forerunner in building clean vehicles through its use of hybrid engines, Toyota, remains hesitant about entering the new series. A spokesperson for Toyota Motorsport said, "There is no current plan to consider a Formula E entry."

Toyota added that the freedom to advance technology that is directly relevant to our future road cars is currently missing in Formula E. The Japanese brand, whose focus lies on its FIA World Endurance Championship project, could be forced to reconsider as Formula E will gradually loosen its restrictions on technological developments. BMW, which entered the electric vehicle market with its BMW i line of cars, also currently has no plans of entering Formula E. Its affiliation with the series as the official vehicle partner, though, could be a first step in becoming a manufacturer further down the road. A BMW spokesperson said, "We have been watching [Formula E] and will be watching it closely to see how the maiden season will unfold." HJ Mai/Sportsbusinessdaily.com

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