Quick, what is the first thing you think of when you think of Volvo? Weird Swedish cars? Safety above all else? Motorracing? Bet most of you didn’t think to mention that last one. Volvo does have a history in motorsports. In the 90s Volvo raced their funky 850 R Wagons in various touring car series. More recently Volvo raced in Australia’s V8 Supercar series. It may not be the first thing you think of but thanks to Polestar, Volvo has enjoyed success in racing.
So what is next for the Sweeds? Open Wheel racing of course. It is the natural progression. Wagons, V8’s, then Formula E. Volvo is evaluating entering the premier all-electric open wheel series. No official decision has been made as of yet, but it is believed that one could be coming as early as October. Volvo/Polestar are on the Formula E Manufacturers’ Advisory Group and are very interested in racing in Formula E. Formula E is growing, and gaining more and more manufacturer interest. The Japanese racing team, Dome has recently submitted a chassis tender.
“Volvo is part of the Manufacturer Advisory board in Formula E, together with a number of other manufacturers, but this is also a way for the FIA and Formula E to invite us to get involved,” Vice President and Head of Motosport at Polestar AB, Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin told Motorsport.com. “We don’t make any decisions on the technical development, but from a Formula E perspective I think what manufacturers are looking into is a clear way to establish yourself in a way you can communicate [that] you are actually the manufacturer. This is because now there is a unified chassis, unified aero, they have opened up the powertrain but not many manufacturers make their own electric powertrains or battery pack, so it is a challenge to develop the technology because it is very new, and that is why many rely on suppliers.”
Formula E’s mission is simple, advance electric car technology the same way other motorsports advance regular car tech. Getting more manufacturers increases competition. Competition leads to innovation. Innovation eventually trickles down to the normal road cars we all drive.
Schedvin continued, “Volvo today doesn’t make fully-electric vehicles and we don’t sell formula cars but we sell hybrids, which is very important for us going forward in motorsport. But, over time you will end up there (to all-electric powered vehicles) with your customer and align with a championship that is based on the same technology. If in five years that is a formula championship, a touring car championship or a GT championship, we don’t know yet. We are all preparing for different parts of the spectrum.”
Formula E is already a weird attack (or lack there of) on the senses. You barely hear the cars whisper by, with the occasional tire squeal. To me it makes perfect sense from both a philosophy and technical standpoint for oddballs like Volvo to take part in. The union makes perfect sense and I for one look forward to seeing them on the grid next season If they decide to race next season. Which seems likely but not official as of yet.