JAS Motorsport’s purchase of an ETCR powertrain kit was in order to research and learn about electric race cars but the company has no immediate plans to enter an electric championship, according to CEO Alessandro Mariani.
The Italian company serves as Honda’s official motorsport partner on a number of platforms including TCR, for which it developed the Honda Civic Type R TCR.
E-racing365 reported in September that JAS had purchased an ETCR powertrain kit, which Mariani said at the time to wtcblog.hu was “in the first design phase”.
Mariani has now given further details about his company’s involvement in the electric touring car platform, which so far has three confirmed manufacturers in Cupra, Hyundai and Alfa Romeo.
He explained that JAS has no current plans to enter an electric car in competition but is using the ETCR kit to learn about electric powertrains and prepare its engineers for a possible future program.
“We bought the kit because we do believe that, at least for ten years, electric cars will be important for the future of motorsport because of the general situation,” Mariani told e-racing365.
“We started it as pure research and we don’t have any commitment to enter in a championship. It’s just our investment for the future to improve our background, to keep our engineers at the same speed of the progress, in case we have to be ready.
“We needed to have experience because if you need to start with a program, we have to be ready.
“At the moment, it’s a theoretical job as is necessary to do, and I think that before Christmas, we can start to design something complete.”
Mariani says a number of difficult areas unique to electric cars have already been identified, but JAS’ wider experience outside of its touring car development is helping to overcome these.
“We already made a preliminary study about the suspension because it’s totally different to a TCR car because it is rear-wheel-drive.
“We are combining our experience with GT3, front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive cars. At the end, it’s a touring car with rear-wheel-drive.
“When we did the first touring car in [the FIA World Touring Car Championship] we had experience of the previous touring cars and we could predict.
“The development time of ETCR is much longer. There are many technical problems we have never faced before.
“Heating, weight, tires. If you combine everything, it’s a completely new challenge.”
ETCR Success Will Depend on Road Car Future
Mariani expects the determining factor in the success of ETCR and other electric production-based series will be the route taken by manufacturers for road cars.
“It depends on the decisions of the manufacturers that I know are fighting to take the right decision for the future,” he said.
“If they go totally to electric power, maybe ETCR will be more important than TCR. If the timing is not so quick, TCR has a very strong base and the cost is much, much cheaper.
“For the national championships, the primary concept of TCR is to have a cheap car with good performance and different brands. Cost, performance, brands involved, many championships. It takes a long time.”
ETCR was initially announced in spring 2018 and had an official launch in October that year. It’s set to have a number of events in 2020 before a full championship commences in 2021.