Jaguar's entry into Formula E will mark its return to International motorsport for the first time in a decade. Sam Smith explains why the move makes sense.
It was tempting to wonder what Jaguar legends Williams Lyons, Lofty England and Sir John Egan would have made of their former 'engineering alma mater's' decision to launch into a five-year Formula E programme.
As the project became officially confirmed on Tuesday at the imposing Shard monolith overlooking the City of London, Jaguar was in turn taking the moral high-ground in its sporting and automotive outlook in what it described as 'carbon conscious' and 'R&D real world testing.'
In short, Jaguar is aiming to accrue further 'e-credentials' in order to position itself for a growing EV market in years to come and the growth of Formula E attracted it to get back on the race tracks of the world.
For a company that pioneered lightweight aluminium engineering in motorsport 65 years ago (with the XK120), the conclusion had to be that Messrs Lyons, England and Egan would have much enjoyed the far-sighted and innovative approach that their engineering proteges were embarking upon.
There is no doubting that the Jaguar Formula E programme is a late contender for a 2015 feel-good story. A decade on from its bloated Formula 1 campaign, the rejuvenated marque is looking at the bigger picture on a multitude of levels as it sets to develop a new vision of its sporting identity.
The new Jaguar Formula E team (although its official title will be known only next Spring) will utilise technology from its own R&D department along with their main technology partners Williams Advanced Engineering.
Jaguar will immediately take its seat on the Formula E Technical Working Group. This is distinct to the Manufacturers Advisory Group, which Motorsport.com uncovered in June.
The operational aspect of the team will be based within Williams' Grove facility as well as a unit at Donington Park. Drivers, the final livery of the car, and other senior engineering staff are set to be announced in April.
"We have aspects of the technology we will be running working already," said James Barclay, who will be the team director at Jaguar.
"We will have more to tell everyone in terms of specifics on the motor, inverter and so forth next spring.
"The work though is starting in earnest and we are very hungry to ensure we can both satisfy our innovative technical targets with also being competitive on performance."
Formula E right for Jaguar
Barclay has racing experience having had a role in the successful Bentley EXP Speed 8 LMP project between 2002-2003, and strongly believes that Formula E is the right fit for Jaguar's sporting ambitions in the future.
"We watched the championship very closely in season one and we liked what we saw," he told Motorsport.com "The engagement that it had with a new fan base and the different ways it promoted and marketed itself really reflects where we, as a company, want to go in the future."
Jaguar will utilise what it calls its 'Generation Y technology cell' within its company structure. This is a collective of young engineers (generally bracketed as being born between 1980-2000) that are focusing on clean technology and applications that will see Jaguar build a range of electric and Hybrid automotive products over the next decade.
Formula E will be a mirror to its technology showcase on the roads.
Like Renault, like DS (Citroen), like Audi, Jaguar believes that Formula E is leveraging a genuine clear path to manufacturers and tapping into what they want in the commercial world, carbon conscious engineering, as well how and where new generations are spending their leisure time.
So, it's an entirely new jungle for the 'Big Cat' to stalk around. For Formula E, it is a major coup to capture a brand as big as Jaguar - and at least one more OEM is set to join the 'e-party' next year.
For fans of motorsport, whether it is the history and legend of Jaguar, or the exciting 'anything is possible' future outlook of the sport, there is much to look forward to in the coming years as more manufacturers engage in electric battle.