Both Mercedes and Porsche made the podium in their first Formula E races, but Sam Bird took victory for Envision Virgin Racing in Saudi Arabia, ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Andre Lotterer.
The two German automobile giants had spoken of tempering excitement ahead of the sixth season of FE but started with a bang.
Vandoorne was in position to win the race late on after a bold passing move on Bird, but he resumed the lead of the race when the Belgian took his second dose of attack mode and dropped behind the Virgin car and Lotterer.
Bird has won at least one race in every Formula E season. He also started the 2017-18 campaign with a victory and secured a career-best third place in the drivers' championship that season.
Vandoorne competed in FE for Mercedes' affiliate HWA last season, securing a sole podium in Rome, but his and Nyck de Vries' strong qualifying augurs well for the Silver Arrows to compete strongly in yet another discipline of motorsport.
Reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne retired from the race.