Andretti Autosport has signed on as the third team to compete in the environmentally friendly FIA Formula E championship, which will feature electric cars racing in 10 cities around the world beginning in 2014.
Michael Andretti's two-car operation will join China Racing and British-based Drayson Racing as organizations already committed to a field that will have 10 two-car teams competing in each e-Prix.
"I think relevancy is going to be addressed with the electric cars," Andretti told The Associated Press. "It's a good way to hook our younger audience into racing, and I'm excited to be involved and be involved at the ground floor."
Andretti plans to run one car for the championship, while his second entry could be a "star car" that uses well-known drivers such as IndyCar reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti or James Hinchcliffe based on their availability.
The races will be held September 2014 to June 2015 for a "winter season" on street courses that run through the heart of major cities around the world. Alejandro Agag, CEO of series promoter FEH, said there will be stops in Miami and Los Angeles on the 10-race schedule, making it important to have Andretti involved in the series debut.
Andretti Autosport currently fields four IndyCar entries, and cars in Indy Lights, the Pro Mazda Championship and in the USF2000 National Championship. The team has won four IndyCar championships, two Lights titles, one USF2000 championship, and its drivers have won two Indianapolis 500s.
In Formula E, teams will have two drivers and four series-provided single-seater electric cars in the first season. Renault has signed on as the car manufacturer, but series officials expect three to five manufacturers in the second season based on current conversations. Michelin is the tire supplier.
The car batteries will last up to 25 minutes at a time, so drivers will have to switch cars during the race while their batteries recharge. The driver will enter the pits, then get out of the car and run 100 meters to get into the freshly charged car.
The cars will be based in England with teams arriving at the venues in advance of the race to prepare the cars for competition.
In an effort to keep costs down—the operating budget for a season is $3.5 million—very little development will be allowed on the cars.
The final calendar for the debut season will be presented to the FIA in September for approval, and also has planned stops in London, Rome, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Putrajaya, Bangkok and Berlin.