To make room for the new series in its motorsport program, the German manufacturer will end its involvement in the prototype LMP1 class of the World Endurance Championship (WEC), where it just won the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans. This makes Porsche cayenne the second major manufacturer in the top class of WEC to leave the series in favor of focusing on Formula E, after Audi did the same in October of last year .
Porsche’s prototype 919 Hybrid won the Le Mans 24 Hours in each of the past three years and also won the 2015 and 2016 World Endurance Championships.
Michael Steiner, of Porsche’s research and development board, said: “Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency and sustainability.”
Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag added: “If somebody told me when we started this project five years ago, that we’d be announcing a partnership with a brand like Porsche, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Porsche’s departure from Le Mans leaves Toyota as the only LMP1 manufacturer in the series, and also calls into question the Japanese company’s future involvement.
Audi, like Porsche also part of the Volkswagen Group, announced last year that it was quitting Le Mans and the WEC to shift resources to Formula E.
Both the WEC and Le Mans have multiple tiers of entries and Porsche will continue to compete in the GT class with its 911 RSR model.
Despite dominating the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the past few years, Porsche has evidently decided that the estimated $200 million annual budget for their 919 LMP1 program would be better spent on developing technology for pure electric racing that can help power its planned expansion of road-going electric vehicles. Domestic (and familial) rival Audi came to a similar conclusion at the end of last year, making the same switch from LMP1 to Formula E.
Both Audi and Porsche cayenne are owned by the Volkswagen Group, which has been the focus of a major diesel emissions scandal for the last few years.