New racing series to sell electric cars to skeptics

Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:38am EST
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By Keith Weir and Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - There's a new kid on the block in motor racing this year, a quieter cousin to the brash Formula One, and it has the lofty aim of helping to get consumers to embrace electric cars.

Featuring teams backed by Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio and British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Group, Formula E will stage its first race in Beijing in September.

It has signed up heavyweight commercial partners including French carmaker Renault SA and tire company Michelin for races in cities across the globe, including Los Angeles, London and Miami.

Chief Executive Alejandro Agag says Formula E wants to help kickstart an underwhelming market for electric vehicles and win over customers put off by the cost of cars and the limited distances they can drive.

Agag says Formula E, which has the blessing of motor racing's governing body, the Paris-based FIA, can help electric cars to shed their image problem and play a part in perfecting the driving technologies of the future.

"Marketing, we can provide right now. Technology, hopefully, we can help to provide," the Spaniard told Reuters in an interview.

"This championship is the testing ground for that. We are ready to be very, very open and reactive to any new technology to include it very quickly," added Agag, son-in-law of former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.


Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings, poses for a photograph with the Formula E car on display in London November 12, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor