The NIO Formula E team has new owners after a deal to invest in and restructure the outfit was completed by a well-known Chinese specialist motorsport group last month.
E-racing365 can reveal that Shanghai-based Lisheng Racing Co. Ltd, which operates motorsport racing events and also owns, organizes and promotes the Chinese Touring Car Championship, is now a key strategic investor.
The move means that NIO is no longer the direct owner of the team although the entrant name will likely still include the Chinese EV manufacturer’s branding. This could take the shape of NIO being a title sponsor of the new-look team.
NIO is believed to have made the move to attract a major new investor earlier this year after its initial financial outlays provided little in the way of sporting results.
The Chinese company is understood to want to concentrate more on its automotive EV and mobility ambitions in the coming years.
Chairman and president of the Lisheng Racing Co. Ltd organisztion Qing Xia oversaw the listing of his company on the Shanghai stock exchange in 2017.
Lisheng also owns the rights for TCR China and is a distributor of Birel Karts as well as owning the China Karting Championship.
In a period of significant growth, Lisheng also acquired Top Speed Shanghai last year. Top Speed is the organizer of F3 Asia, and co-organizes the Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia, Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup, and the Asian Le Mans Series.
Lisheng had a presence in the Formula E paddock this year as it has an interest in the Jaguar China Racing squad that participates in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY.
New executives from Lisheng visited NIO’s technical bases at Donington and Oxford on Friday and are expected to inform staff of details regarding further plans this week.
Team to Still Use NIO in Official Team Name
The naming of the new-look team is likely to stay as NIO which retains some investment in the team, but the operational and technical management of the entity is set to be conducted by the Spanish QEV Technologies company.
The team has until Sept. 9 to register its official entrant name with the FIA.
QEV has long had a footprint in Formula E through its association with Campos Racing, which was founded by former F1 driver Adrian Campos.
Campos has strong links with Chinese motorsport and was the operational and technical arm of the NextEV TCR squad in the first season of Formula E when Nelson Piquet Jr. won the inaugural drivers’ title.
Now, it appears that QEV will be the organization that could replace the current British-based management structure which includes team principal Gerry Hughes and performance programming engineering director Paul Fickers.
E-racing365 has also discovered that Mahindra Racing team manager Joan Orus is being lined up to become the team manager and initial technical lead for the new-look team. Orus is the chief operating officer of QEV Technologies.
It is believed that representatives of the new owners are in the UK and Spain this week to begin restructuring of the team in readiness for the 2019-20 season.
This will include the possible sourcing of a manufacturer customer powertrain. It is already believed an homologation extension could be agreed for the newly-structured team.
Oliver Turvey is currently likely to be retained as a driver for the new season due to his existing deal but the future of his Season Five teammate Tom Dillmann is less clear.
Neither NIO nor QEV Technologies would comment on matters of the team’s future when contacted by e-racing365.