A race-prepared touring car based on the fully-electric NIO ES8 SUV has been revealed as part of the new China Electric Touring Car Challenge (CETC) which will get underway next month.
The championship and car were unveiled by Zhuhai Formula Racing Development Co. Ltd., better known as FRD, which already runs a number of race series, including Formula Renault, Clio Cup and LMP3 championships.
The track-ready NIO ES8 SUV has been modified for competition by FRD, and has “already attracted plenty of interest from drivers eager to be a part of this innovative new series”, a statement read.
“The engineering and commercialization of green energy vehicles is expanding, electric personal transportation is developing rapidly, and electric motorsports must be rapidly developed to meet the needs of manufacturers and industrial markets,” FRD President Kenneth Ma said.
“At FRD we have changed our focus from the traditional gasoline-powered race car to alternative energy race cars in preparation for our first race in Tianjin, an event which will be held alongside the World Intelligence Conference.”
NIO currently competes in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship as an outright manufacturer team and has released a number of fully-electric road cars, including SUVs and the EP9 supercar.
It launched its new ET sedan series earlier this week at Auto Shanghai.
“FRD has more than twenty years of experience in modifying cars for competition, in the process, winning nine championship titles across 12 years of the National Touring Car Championship with the Changan Ford Racing Team,” FRD’s technical consultant Greg Wheeler explained.
“In 2016, Hong Kong held the first FIA Hong Kong Telecommunications Electric Formula Championship alongside Formula E.
“FRD was an official event partner, and the constructor of all the vehicles for the world’s first electric touring car challenge event.
“That same successful approach has been applied to our new relationship with NIO, and we can’t wait to get the cars on track at the new Tianjin V1 circuit on May 19.”
FRD revealed plans for CETC early last year, following a pilot race in support of the 2016 Hong Kong E-Prix.
It was initially set to get underway in October but has since been delayed to a May debut.
Further information, including the rest of the CETC schedule following the Tianjin round and identities of interested competitors, are yet to be released.
Details on another Chinese electric series, the XPT China Electric Car Championship, have been thin since its launch at Ningbo in November and subsequent showcase at the Macau Grand Prix.