Take-up in the new Extreme E concept is currently lukewarm among existing Formula E manufacturers, although nine brands are already involved in talks.
Championship co-founder and Formula E chairman and CEO Alejandro Agag revealed during the launch event on Thursday that nine “of the usual suspects” are discussing entering the radical new championship.
“The nine manufacturers are all very serious and very big,” Agag told assembled media on board the RMS St. Helena.
“They’re nine of the usual suspects, but I don’t know how many are really serious or not. We are in very preliminary conversations with some which have been really interesting.”
E-racing365 understands that some interested parties have signed statements of intent to enter the series but Agag confirmed that nothing formal has been agreed, with no contracts written up yet.
In addition to Jean-Eric Vergne and the Veloce Esports company showing interest, as reported by e-racing365 last weekend, Formula E teams ABT Sportsline and Andretti Autosport are also formulating plans to potentially be involved.
However, several Formula E manufacturers and teams, including NIO, Jaguar, Envision Virgin and BMW, have told e-racing365 they are unlikely to commit for the inaugural season.
BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt says the best strategy for the Munich-based manufacturer is to keep an eye on how the championship develops for the time being.
“If you look at what kind of cars are coming as e-cars, the SUVs are now coming. I can see the point and the concept [of Extreme E] for sure is interesting,” he told e-racing365.
“We are happy with our partnership we have in Formula E and are happy with the way things went from the safety and vehicle partner now to the full entry. For us this platform takes all focus.
“So we decided, we’ll watch what’s happening but we don’t have to be prime movers there [in Extreme E].”
NIO team principal Gerry Hughes echoed Marquardt’s opinion, stating that the Chinese manufacturer’s main focus remains on Formula E for now.
“We put a proposal together and presented it to our bosses in China but at the moment we will just see how that series unfolds,” Hughes told e-racing365.
“The focus is firmly on Formula E and not Extreme E, but it will be very interesting how a championship of that nature takes off.”
Mahindra, meanwhile, is understood to have ruled out the possibility of being involved in Extreme E, along with some other current Formula E manufacturers.
While expecting manufacturers to commit to Extreme E, Agag admitted it’s not a necessity for the series, and it would still debut in 2021 even with no manufacturer involvement.
“I will start a championship with no manufacturers, if needed,” he told e-racing365. “It can be all independent teams. This is not conditional to anything.
“This championship is happening. If manufacturers are here, great, but if manufacturers are not here, I hope they will come after.”
Sam Smith and John Dagys contributed to this report.