Mercedes-Benz wants to join Formula E. The German automaker announced today that it has reserved a spot in the all-electric racing series for when the number of teams expands from 10 to 12 in the fifth season, which starts in 2018. The news comes just days before Formula E is set to start its third season with a race in Hong Kong.
Formula E was started in 2014, and it pits electric open-wheel racecars against each other on temporary street circuits in some of the biggest cities in the world. (New York City was recently added to the calendar for season three.) The young series has quickly attracted big names from the automotive world; Renault, Jaguar, BMW, Audi, Citroën, and Faraday Future all either run or have partnered with race teams so far. Others, like Nissan and Porsche, are rumored to be interested in joining as well.
Mercedes would be a different kind of coup for the series, though. The company has been involved with motorsport since the first automobile races were run at the turn of the 20th century. Mercedes also currently fields the most successful team in Formula One — the company has won the last two manufacturers’ championships, and team driver Lewis Hamilton has won the drivers’ trophy in both of those years as well.
Like many of the companies already involved with Formula E, electric vehicles are a big part of the future for Mercedes. Just this past weekend at the Paris Motor Show the company announced an electric SUV concept with a modular architecture that could be used for other types of automobiles. Formula E is quickly becoming a platform for promoting a company’s electric intentions, and it’s also a place for them learn about using electric technology in extreme environments.
“We are delighted to confirm that we have reserved one of our two new entries in season five for MGP,” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said in a statement. “Formula E wants to become the platform where car manufacturers test and develop the technologies that they will then introduce on their road cars. Having the chance to include a brand like Mercedes in our championship in the future would be a major boost to achieve that objective.”
Formula E plans to expand to 12 teams in season five, but that decision will have to eventually be voted on by the teams and by the sport’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile.