FRANKFURT -- Porsche is leaving the top category of Le Mans racing at the end of the season to join German automotive rivals in the Formula E electric championship in 2019.
Porsche has already taken the first steps toward developing its own Formula E racecar this year, the automaker said in a statement on Friday.
Porsche plans to launch a full-electric car based on the Mission E concept in 2019.
"Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E," Porsche r&d chief Michael Steiner said in the statement.
Porsche's has won the Le Mans champion for the last three years and the company won the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2015 and 2016.
The Formula E announcement had been widely expected in the motorsport world and came after Mercedes-Benz confirmed on Monday its move into Formula E and exit from the German Touring Car (DTM) championship.
Audi, which like Porsche is part of the Volkswagen Group, announced last October that it was quitting Le Mans and the WEC to shift resources to Formula E. Other manufacturers already involved in the electric series, whose third season ends this weekend in Canada, include German rivals BMW as well as Renault, Jaguar, Citroen and India's Mahindra.
The arrival of Mercedes and Porsche in the series for season six, which starts in 2019 and ends in 2020, will take to 12 the number of Formula E teams.
Porsche's exit from the main LMP1 Le Mans category will be a big blow for the WEC, which risks being left with Toyota as the only major car manufacturer competing at that level -- hardly viable for a championship.
There was no immediate comment from series organizers but Jean Todt, the head of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) expressed mixed feelings. "I’m very happy that Porsche is coming to Formula E, but I regret their decision to leave the World Endurance Championship," he said in a statement.
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.