Jaguar’s I-Pace racing series will end because of COVID-19

Original article was published on The Verge – Transportation Posts

The Jaguar I-Pace racing series, which launched in 2018, will come to an end this year after just two seasons due to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, as it’s officially called, will finish out whatever races it can this year alongside electric racing series Formula E and then fold up shop at the end of the season, despite being contracted to put on at least one more.

Announced in 2017, Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy is run as a support class for all-electric racing series Formula E. It pits race-modified versions of the British automaker’s first electric car against each other on the same temporary street circuits built for Formula E. This gave the Jaguar racing series a leg up over other upstart motorsports since it could leverage much of the infrastructure, personnel, and logistics of the more mature series, which is now in its sixth season. (Jaguar Land Rover has competed in Formula E since its third season, and it will maintain its presence in the series, team boss James Barclay told Motorsport.com.)

Despite that built-in help and the fact that the teams all ran the same cars, costs were still high as Hazel Southwell points out over at Inside Electric:

The series never reached a full grid, despite interest from teams and drivers, possibly because its status as Formula E’s support category – and consequent logistical requirements, as well as Jaguar’s engineering support – made the costs fairly eye-watering for comparatively short races.

Numbers have varied from the initially-announced fees but a season could set you back in the region of £750,000

It’s unclear exactly how much it cost Jaguar Land Rover to put on Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy. The series was run out of Jaguar Land Rover’s “special operations” division, the financial performance of which the company did not specifically disclose in its most recent annual filing to the United Kingdom’s Companies House registry. Formula E posted a multimillion-dollar loss last year, as The Verge first reported, though it was closer to break-even than ever.

Jaguar Land Rover has struggled financially; most recently, it posted a £3.6 billion (more than $4 billion) loss in its 2018–2019 fiscal year. All that said, Jaguar Racing Limited — the company’s subsidiary that runs its Formula E team — turned a £400,000 (nearly $500,000) profit on £10.2 million (roughly $12.5 million) of revenue during that same fiscal year. Jaguar has promoted its involvement in both I-Pace eTrophy and Formula E as having brought real-world gains to the range and thermal management of the road version of the I-Pace.

As for the racing product, Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy never really found its footing. Because the series competed on the tight Formula E street circuits, there was very little room for passing — a problem that was made worse by the cars largely being equal. That meant the beginning of each race was often total chaos (which, to be fair, can be its own kind of entertainment) as drivers fought to gain whatever positions they could.

But as Southwell points out, Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy was a more diverse motorsport than most. This past season alone, Katherine Legge became the first woman to win a professional all-electric race, Reema Juffali was the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in an international motorsport series in her own country, and Takuma Aoki was the first driver with disabilities to compete in a global EV racing series.