Jaguar has announced a racing version of its upcoming I-Pace electric car at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show. Called the I-Pace eTrophy, the racer has been designed to contest a single-make championship that will support the Formula E series in 2018-19.
It's the work of Jaguar Land Rover's increasingly busy Special Vehicle Operations division (SVO), best known for SVR versions of road-going Jaguar and Range Rover models and limited-run specials such as the F-type-based Project 7 and the XE-derived Project 8.
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Full specifications and performance figures for the I-Pace eTrophy are yet to be revealed, and will be announced closer to the start of Formula E's fifth season next year.
However, it's likely to share its basic underpinnings with the production car, meaning an electric motor at each axle, a combined power output of 394bhp or more, and a 0-62mph figure of around 4sec or less.
The production car's sizeable 90kWh lithium-ion battery pack, good for 310 miles in the road car, should also be game for several laps at race pace. Coincidentally, the 2018-19 Formula E season will also be the first in which the single-seater racers will be required to complete an entire race with one car, rather than the range-enforced car swaps we've seen up until now.
No weight figure is quoted for the road car, but we'd expect SVO to shave some kilos for the car's racing version to the benefit of performance and handling.
In terms of the races themselves, Jaguar has confirmed that one car will be raced by a guest 'VIP' driver at each round – with cities such as New York, Paris, Rome, Sao Paulo and Hong Kong currently pencilled in. Vehicles will be available to racers on an 'arrive-and-drive' basis, too.
Gerd Mäuser, chairman of Jaguar Racing, says the new car strengthens Jaguar's commitment to battery electric vehicles, international motorsport and Formula E – a series that Jaguar has been a part of since its third season.
'I’m looking forward to seeing a full grid of I-Pace race cars in late 2018, soon after the first I-Pace road car hits the streets in Europe,' said Mäuser, adding, 'Ultimately, this innovative series will serve to enhance the technology used in our future electric vehicles and benefit our customers. The I-Pace eTrophy will improve the spectacle for fans and gives young drivers a ladder into Formula E. We expect our series to be a sellout.'
Last week, Jaguar Land Rover confirmed that all new production models launched after 2020 would feature some form of electrification, from mild hybrids to full battery electric cars.
At the TechFest event in Camden, Jaguar also displayed an electric-converted E-type Series 1.5 built by Jaguar Land Rover Classic, dubbed E-type Zero – as well as a unique Jaguar Future-Type concept whose electric and autonomous technology is centred around a removable, personalised steering wheel named Sayer.