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Ford Maintains OEM Powertrain Target; Rules Out World RX, ETCR

Ford remains interested only in electric series with scope to develop unique powertrains…

Photo: FIA World RX

Ford remains committed to its philosophy of competing in forms of electric motorsport where it can develop its own powertrains, effectively ruling out entries in ETCR and the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

According to Ford Performance’s global motorsports director Mark Rushbrook, the Blue Oval is still eager to move into electric motorsport but only in a situation that gives it scope to develop unique powertrains.

This is the basis of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, where manufacturers develop unique powertrains to use within a common bodywork, while entrants in the upcoming Extreme E off-road series can choose to use either their own powertrains or a common kit.

Two new major electric racing series will effectively use the reverse of Formula E’s model, with ETCR and FIA World RX, which will introduce electric cars in its top class in 2021, using a common powertrain placed within manufacturer-specific bodywork.

Without the “opportunity for technical innovation”, Rushbrook says a series wouldn’t work for Ford’s business model.

“We’re certainly interested in not just electrifying our race programs with hybrids but full electric, so we continue to study the different options that are available around the globe,” Rushbrook told e-racing365.

“Rallycross, in many ways, is a really good formula and format to be able to do that. But we’re still waiting to see the right proposal, both from a technical perspective and a sporting and competition with the schedule.

“Our principles are very consistent for full electric as they are in hybrid.

“It needs to be something that is technically relevant for the brand, where we have the opportunity for technical innovation. And it needs to be something we can get global scale out of.

“We would like to see OE-spec powertrains from the start,” he added, when asked if Ford could accept common powertrains at the start of a new series if unique manufacturer-specific designs were to be accepted in the future.

Rushbrook clarified that this therefore rules out rallycross and ETCR for the moment, while leaving options in Formula E and Extreme E.

Despite this, he cautioned that “it’s still a bit early” to seriously consider Extreme E, which will get underway in early 2021.

Rushbrook previously expressed his interest in FIA World RX when the series’ electrification plans involved manufacturer-specific powertrains but these plans were scrapped earlier this year after the series failed to gather enough interest for such a format.

A fully-electric support series named Projekt E will now race on several FIA World RX weekends next year before electric cars are introduced into the top class alongside ICE-powered designs in 2021.

Ford has also previously been linked to Formula E programs, including a scenario where it could take over Dragon’s entry, but nothing has materialized.

John Dagys contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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