Porsche has decided to shut down its LMP1 programme from the end of 2017 and switch to Formula E from 2019. The 911 RSR GT programme continues and Weissach will focus on bringing the 911 back to the head of the field.
It is not a huge surprise that Porsche has canned its hugely expensive LMP1 programme after two back-to-back titles. The promotion value of the effort has already begun to tail off and, with France and the UK already planning to ban new sales of petrol engined cars from 2040, the motor industry focus is clearly on electric cars now. The next twenty years will see a revolution in motoring with autonomous cars, electric vehicles and further downsizing as more households run just one car, or no car at all.
These trends are still in their infancies, but as momentum grows behind renewables of all sorts and the exploding global population requires an ever-cleaner world in order to survive, manufacturers will not wish to be seen as irrelevant in the clean air/electric car landscape. While the racing in Formula E is nothing to get really excited about right now, the series offers a reasonable option for brand positioning (many Porsche competitors are already there), not to mention the cross-R&D advantages to those who need to train a bunch of engineers and maximise the development curve of renewable drivetrains.
Porsche says that the shift from FIA WEC to Formula E is “derived from the direction set out for the company in Porsche Strategy 2025, which will see Porsche develop a combination of pure GT vehicles and fully electric sports cars, such as the first fully battery-powered Mission E road car”.
“Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E,” says Michael Steiner, head of Research and Development at Porsche AG. “The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us. Porsche is working with alternative, innovative drive concepts. For us, Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high-performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency and sustainability”.