Any form of formula racing may look the same to an outsider, but racing fans know there are big differences between them. And one of the biggest differences comes down to the manufacturers: Some series (like Formula One) require that each team builds its own chassis. Others mandate that each team run the same one. Yet others leave it open to each team to choose which chassis they want to run. And now Formula E is transitioning from one to the other.

The nascent electric racing series currently provides identical cars to each of the teams, but only four rounds into its inaugural season, it's announced a big change for the next one. Starting next season, eight manufacturers will take part, and while they'll still be running mostly the same machinery, they'll be allowed to tinker with the entire powertrain, including the electric motor, the inverter, the gearbox and the cooling system. The systems are currently furnished by Renault and McLaren.

The manufacturers signed on for next season include ABT Sportsline, Andretti, Mahindra, Motomica, NEXTEV TCR, Renault Sport, Venturi and Virgin Racing Engineering. While some (like Andretti) are independent racing teams, others are established electric vehicle firms (like Venturi) or even have ties to major automakers (like Audi-tied Abt, Indian automaker Mahindra or French giant Renault).

Limiting the manufacturers to toying only with the powertrain is designed to keep costs in check – especially where aerodynamics come into play. But in the third season they'll be allowed to mess with the batteries too, with the goal of making one charge last the entire race distance instead of each driver having to swap to a fully charged car halfway through the race, the way they do today.

As the profile of the series continues to grow, we wouldn't be surprised to see more major manufacturers taking part as well. For instance both Mercedes and Volvo have singled out the series for potential participation in the future, and BMW already furnishes the series with support vehicles like the i8 safety car.



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Eight manufacturers to enter Formula E next season

London|23 Feb 15

The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile has today revealed the eight manufacturers who will enter the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship in season two – further increasing the series' credentials as a test bed for the development of electric vehicle technology.

For the inaugural 2014/2015 season, the 10 Formula E teams all compete using identical single-seaters – the Spark-Renault SRT_01E – utilising a powertrain by McLaren Electronic Systems. From the 2015/2016 season, the series will become an open championship allowing manufacturers to pursue their own in-house innovations, beginning with the development of bespoke powertrains.

In order to limit costs and promote investment and innovation in the most important areas, the manufacturers' scope is initially limited to the powertrain – specifically the e-motor, the inverter, the gearbox and the cooling system. All other parts on the cars will remain as they are, with the aim being to prevent costly aerodynamic developments.

As such, following a tender process and an in-depth analysis of each, the FIA has selected the following eight manufacturers:

- ABT Sportsline
- Andretti
- Mahindra
- Motomatica
- NEXTEV TCR
- Renault Sport
- Venturi Automobiles
- Virgin Racing Engineering

The next regulation progression – scheduled for season three - will see manufacturers extend their efforts to the batteries, with the objective being the use of a single car per driver during races from the fifth season.

FIA President Jean Todt said: "The launch of the FIA Formula E Championship has been a great success. This innovative and spectacular discipline is in the process of gaining its sporting and technical credibility and the arrival of manufacturers for its second season is the next stage in Formula E's development.

"The gradual opening up of the regulations will promote innovation, while at the same time keeping costs under control. The solutions chosen by the manufacturers will hopefully lead to rapid development of the future-focused technologies at the heart of Formula E," he added. "In terms of the manufacturers chosen, we are satisfied with the quality of the applications received and the number of manufacturers becoming involved reflects the huge interest generated by Formula E."

Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, added: "It's fantastic for Formula E to have this many manufacturers wanting to be a part of the championship after just four races, and shows great confidence in the series. One of our objectives from the beginning was to promote technology competition but we cannot do that as organisers of the championship, we need 'actors' to join and to develop technologies to fight against each other in the races. Through this fight we improve the technology and then with this improved technology we improve electric cars in general. We expect more manufacturers to join from season three onwards and we're already talking with many different manufactures and also OEMs."

The homologation process for single-seaters for the 2015/16 Formula E season has already commenced.


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