The all-electric Formula E series will see two automakers join the series when the sixth season begins at the end of the year, Mercedes-Benz being one of them. The Stuttgart carmaker launched its Silver Arrow 01 today at the Geneva Motor Show, citing the battery-powered racer as “an important source of technology for the Mercedes family in the future.” Joining the series that begins after the end of the Formula One and runs into the following year makes Mercedes the only automaker to compete in both F1 and FE simultaneously.
The Geneva colors represent a teaser livery; the race colors will debut closer to the season opener. Mercedes says the blue line along the flanks represents the EQ brand, and ties into the similar Petronas green line streaked upon the Mercedes-AMG F1 W10 EQ Power+ Formula One car.
A brief primer: Formula E uses spec cars with the same Gen2 bodywork built by Dallara, 52-kWh batteries provided by McLaren Applied Technologies, with final build an integration from Spark Technologies. Batteries are rated at 250 kw (340 hp) for practice and qualifying, 200 kW (270 hp) for the race. An FE racer does 0-60 in 2.7 seconds, can reach a top speed of 174 miles per hour, and can run the entire 45-minute race duration without recharging. Entrants can design their own electric motors, inverters, gearboxes, and front brake ducts. That doesn’t sound like a lot of wiggle room, but so far, manufacturers like the cautious approach. It ensures cost control while allowing them to focus on how to extract the best battery performance, which is what matters for their road cars.
Mercedes joins Audi, BMW, Citroën, Mahindra, Nissan, and Jaguar in Formula E’s OEM club. Chinese start-up NIO fields a team as well, and specialist French EV maker Venturi. The Mercedes team could have like-minded company, too, since HWA Racelab joined the series this year, with recent F1 refugee Stoffel Vandoorne in one of its two cars. HWA, the long-time racing division of AMG, is run by Hans-Werner Aufrecht. Aufrecht is one of the two founders of AMG; his surname provides the “A” in that initialism. Porsche will be the other new automaker to line up later this year.