March 19, 2015 / 5:43 PM / 2 years ago

Branson says Virgin working on electric cars: Bloomberg TV

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Sir Richard Branson listens to a speaker at the Global Commission on Drug Policy in New York, in this September 9, 2014 file photo.Shannon Stapleton

DETROIT (Reuters) - Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Group may take on Tesla Motors Inc and other companies in developing electric cars, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

Branson, whose empire ranges from airlines to music stores, mobile phones and spaceships, said electric cars may be next.

"We have teams of people working on electric cars," Branson told Bloomberg TV in Miami where his Virgin Racing team competed in the all-electric Formula E race that involves battery-powered cars. "So you never know, you may find Virgin competing with the Tesla in the car business as we do in the space business. We will see what happens."

Branson's Virgin Galactic is a commercial spaceflight company that competes with SpaceX, which was founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

"We are working with the Virgin Formula E team to develop the plan for next season's cars," Virgin Group spokesman Nick Fox told Reuters. "Our aim is to build a leading engine and car for next season. Maybe ultimately that could be used in the broader car market in the future."

In addition to Tesla, most of the world's automakers sell or are developing electric cars. There are also signs Apple Inc may be working on an electric car and Google Inc is developing a car that can drive itself.

However, broader acceptance of electric cars has been held back by the premium consumers must pay for the technology and fears about the driving range of an all-electric vehicle.

Branson told Bloomberg TV, "Tesla is as sexy as any other car on the road today."

Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Christian Plumb

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