The first US edition of the recently introduced FIA Formula E championship, an electric alternative to the iconic Formula 1, has attracted in downtown Miami thousands of fans, raising hopes it could bring the needed attention towards energy efficient mainstream auto technology.
According to British entrepreneur Richard Branson, which owns the Virgin Racing team, the Formula E will pioneer technology which will be used on normal road cars.” The Formula E championship, introduced last September in Beijing, China, will land in ten major cities across the world – Miami was the fifth in the race’s annual calendar. The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the organizaer that also has oversight over the popular Formula One, has brought in major sponsors such as Michelin and DHL and has high hopes the series would act much as its bigger – traditional – F1 counterpart – driving innovation and the faster development of series produced electric vehicles.
Branson claimed exciting opportunities would come out of the Formula E, with technology advances on battery energy density, efficiency of drive trains or the introduction of wireless “inductive” charging systems. “Every team next year will be working hard to beat each other and all that manpower, finance and energy will produce breakthroughs and make a big difference to normal battery-driven cars,” commented the billionaire entrepreneur. So far sales of batter-driven electric cars have lagged industry-wide expectations due to high upfront costs, unknown reliability and the lack of available recharging infrastructure that has led to the appearance of “range anxiety” – a term coined for customers unwilling to buy electric cars of fear they would remain stranded without power on the side of the road.