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Motor Sport | Jaguar’s Formula E Commitment: Implications for South Africa’s EV Market

South African-led Jaguar TCS Racing recently announced its commitment to Formula E until at least 2030, supporting Jaguar’s strategy to become a fully electric consumer brand in the coming years.

James Barclay, Team Director, Jaguar TCS Racing, PHOTO - Simon Galloway.

The team have been in the sport since 2016, competed in over 100 races and is leading both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships, with only four races to go.

With South Africa poised to increase EV manufacturing and usage, and Jaguar's significant presence in the country, the team’s continued commitment to Formula E represents an important milestone.

A testing ground for innovation:

Formula E has become a key EV technology testing ground as it allows automotive manufacturers to develop cutting-edge electric mobility technology they can incorporate into their road cars. On-track innovations lead to off-track gains, enabling road cars to become faster and more sustainable as Formula E grows.

Joining other manufacturers like Nissan, Porsche, and Lola Cars in the championship's forthcoming phase, GEN4, Jaguar aims to leverage advancements in energy efficiency, race performance, and safety standards. This next-gen platform will introduce features such as regeneration capacity reaching up to 700kW and a power output surge of up to 600kW. It will also see developments in fast charging and sustainable manufacturing, all of which can be used to support the consumer EV market.

Nick Cassidy, Jaguar TCS Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6 alongside Mitch Evans, Jaguar TCS Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6

Nick Cassidy, Jaguar TCS Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6 alongside Mitch Evans, Jaguar TCS Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 6 PHOTO - Simon Galloway.

Barclay stated, “Our commitment to the next GEN4 era of Formula E demonstrates the Jaguar Land Rover Board’s confidence in the value of competition at the highest level. I am extremely proud of what the team has achieved in electric racing, and we are all very excited for the future. Jaguar TCS Racing will continue to drive the rapid development of EV technology on the track for the benefit of our future customers on the road.”

These developments are likely to benefit the South African electric mobility market, as many Formula E teams, including Jaguar, already have an established presence in the South African automotive industry.

Impact on South Africa’s EV Market

The South African electric vehicle market is still in its infancy but has seen a slow and steady increase in EV adoption locally. While the industry has developed, it is important for South Africa to invest in and develop the manufacturing and consumer sectors related to EVs.

“Electric vehicles are an important mechanism for the decarbonisation of the transport industry through the reduction of direct tail-pipe emissions. A transition to zero-emission vehicles could contribute significantly towards achieving South Africa’s [greenhouse gas] emissions reduction targets,” says Jaisvir Sewpaul, in a media statement, released by the United States International Trade Administration in 2023.

However, there are various challenges related to growing the industry in South Africa. According to Richard Gouverneur, JLR South Africa Managing Director, these include a lack of government investment in the manufacturing sector to high purchase and charging prices for consumers.

“Without government support, the incremental cost of funding this transition, including training and investment in equipment and tooling, will ultimately be borne by the final customer,” states Gouverneur. This issue is compounded by a lack of national charging infrastructure, posing a significant barrier to widespread EV adoption.

Gouverneur also highlighted the “proverbial chicken and egg question”: Without proper charging infrastructure, there won’t be an increased rollout of EVs, but there won’t be an increase in chargers without enough EVs to justify the investment. Additionally, the electricity supply challenges in South Africa have contributed to consumer hesitation.

However, Gouverneur dispels misconceptions about loadshedding impacting EV drivers, as he believes it isn’t a serious issue. “With proper scheduling, drivers can work around electrical interruptions and charge their vehicles when electricity is available,” he explained. He believes that with adequate consumer education, most South Africans would find regular travel by electric vehicle viable and appealing.

This view is supported by Winstone Jordaan, managing director of GridCars, a South African company, described as “the industry leader in DC fast charging systems”. Jordaan said: “Loadshedding does not impact people who own electric vehicles. If I plug my car in at night, I need about three hours of charging time. No matter how bad loadshedding has been, I have never not had three hours to charge my vehicle overnight,” says Jordaan.

Driving Innovation and Future Prospects

Jaguar Land Rover aims to electrify its entire vehicle portfolio by 2030, with its exploits in Formula E playing a crucial role. “Formula E allows the team to test and develop new electric vehicle technologies in a high-performance environment,” explained Gouverneur. “It continues to be the test bed for our Race to Innovate mission, which will help shape the electric future.”

Nick Cassidy, Jaguar TCS Racing, 1st position, celebrates with his trophy on the podium PHOTO SIMON GALLOWAY

Nick Cassidy, Jaguar TCS Racing, 1st position, celebrates with his trophy on the podium PHOTO: Simon Galloway

Jaguar’s participation in Formula E enables the development of sustainable, high-performance technology, making it an ideal testing ground for manufacturers seeking innovative solutions for their future EV portfolios. This commitment is expected to have positive ripple effects on South Africa’s EV market, fostering growth, technological advancement, and a more sustainable future.

By strengthening ties between global advancements and local implementation, Jaguar and Formula E could play a pivotal role in accelerating South Africa’s transition to an electric vehicle future.

motor sport, ABB Formula E, Jaguar

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