Renault is dropping out of Formula E at the end of next season… but sister company Nissan will take over.
The move makes Nissan the first Japanese brand to compete in the all-electric single-seater race series. It’s planning to use the formula as a marketing exercise, saying in a press release:
“The move to participate in the growing Formula E series gives Nissan a highly visible global platform from which to spread the message of Nissan Intelligent Mobility – the company’s three-pillar strategy to redefine how its vehicles are driven, powered and integrated into society.”
Interestingly, Renault’s departure after winning the first three seasons of Formula E fairly easily could also be seen as a face-saving decision that means the company won’t suffer the negative PR of potentially being beaten by the likes of Jaguar, BMW and Audi, if they deliver faster cars.
Nissan will be competing with the benefit of Renault’s experience and shared technologies, but on a more level playing field of reputations. If Nissan’s car is off the pace, it will seem less bad than if it were the previously dominant Renault. It’s a clever move by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
It also means Nissan is doing a brave thing by taking over at this time. The 2018-19 season is set to feature almost all the big guns like Audi who have so far thrown their hats in the ring. The only exception is Porsche, which is taking its time and will join the party for the 2019-20 races. Nissan’s task is arguably tougher than Renault’s.
To date Nissan has sold more than 280,000 Leafs around the world, making that the world’s best-selling EV. The new one looks set to extend the car’s record thanks to vastly improved styling and the latest tech… even if some of it makes our eyes roll hard.