Aimed to boost the market for battery-powered vehicles and advance the technology behind them, the new series of races that follow the path of Formula 1, albeit with electric flavor, is now backed by Renault, the automaker that has a big interest in electric vehicle sales.
Formula E plans to stage its first race in Beijing next September and has signed up commercial partners including Renault and tire manufacturer Michelin. The race series has the blessing of motor sport’s FIA governing body, as well.
The first Formula E cars that racers will drive will look similar to those used in F1- hardly surprising given that teams like McLaren and Williams will supply the electronics and batteries respectively. Renault, which provides engines for F1 teams including the current champions Red Bull, will oversee the integration of the various systems, while Michelin supplies the tires.
Vincent Carre, Renault’s head of electric vehicles, said he believed the new races were a timely showcase. “We need Formula E to explain to people that electric cars are for today not for tomorrow,” Carre said, adding that more charging points should soon become available in major cities to help tempt motorists to buy the vehicles.
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said the excitement of cars racing at speeds of 220km/h (135mph) through the heart of cities including London, Miami and Los Angeles should help electric vehicles to shrug off an image problem and fine-tune their technologies.
Agag’s ambitions were supported by a study from consultancy EY saying the races could help to boost electric vehicle sales by as much as 77 million units over the next 25 years — a dramatic increase on current levels. U.S.-based market research firm ABI for instance estimates global electric car sales will reach 150,000 this year and grow 48 % annually to reach 2.3 million in 2020.
Via Automotive News Europe