Renault and Nissan set to make Formula E switch
Renault might be dominating the Formula E championship right now, but new reports suggest that it’s going to make a controversial swap with Nissan in the next two or three years. Nothing has been confirmed by either Renault or Nissan yet, but according to Motorsport.com, the deal is already done.
The report claims that the boss of Nissan’s global motorsport arm NISMO, Mike Carcamo, visited the Renault team and the FIA during Valencia pre-season test last week.
What’s more, when asked about a Japanese team entering Formula E, series CEO Alejandro Agag said “[Nissan, Toyota and Honda] one of those three, maybe two, will end up” in the series, though he didn’t say which.
What’s going on here then?
With the current backdrop of sustainable transport and pro-EV lawmaking, you’re probably wondering why Renault has decided to swap with Nissan, but it actually makes a lot of sense.
Crucially Renault and Nissan are part of something called the Renault-Nissan Alliance, a slightly ambiguous partnership that effectively means they share elements of tech expertise. That means Nissan’s entry and Renault’s exit is more of a repositioning than the catastrophic event it appears to be.
So why is Nissan getting the green light for Formula E instead of Renault, especially given the latter’s success? Simply put, Nissan is a leader when it comes to EV technology – and Renault is sort of nowhere.
For the last few years, the Nissan Leaf has become the most popular EV in the majority of the world, and even though the company has never confirmed it, it’s clear the Leaf’s EV tech is imminently headed to other Nissan passenger cars. Throw in the company’s recent announcement of a Nismo-prepared Leaf, and it’s clear Nissan has serious plans for the EV sector.
Renault on the other hand? Apart from the ZOE, which isn’t doing nearly as well as the Nissan Leaf, there’s not much in the way of EV activity. Last year we got to see the bonkers, Renault ZOE eSport, but apart from that, there hasn’t been much of a focused effort.
Put those things together, and it makes sense for Nissan to be front and centre in the Formula E championship. While car manufacturers will argue about the balance, racing is probably more beneficial for marketing than it is for actually technology development, and Renault simply doesn’t have the road cars to justify it. In contrast, Nissan will certainly have the EV models and volume to seriously capitalise on any Formula E success.
So where does that leave Renault?
Renault’s Formula E exit will free up resources for its F1 program, and if you’re following this year’s F1 championship, you’ll know it could do with the money. Despite being a huge car brand, Renault has lagged behind Red Bull Racing – which actually uses rebadged Renault engines.
By pulling out of Formula E, Renault will be free to chase success in the hybrid racing and hybrid sector, while Nissan can the dominate the EV sector on the track – as well as the road.