The Formula E racing series has been officially launched by motorsport body the FIA. Promoted by Formula E Holdings, the format will see all-electric open-wheel cars going head to head on city-centre street circuits around the globe. The FIA hopes that the series will offer a different spectacle to traditional motor racing and will lead the way to cleaner cities.
FIA president Jean Todt said: “We are pleased with this agreement with Formula E Holdings as they bring a very strong experience in motor sport. This spectacular series will offer both entertainment and a new opportunity to share the FIA values and objectives of clean energy, mobility and sustainability with a wider and younger audience.”
The thinking behind the series is simple: electric cars have an image problem, and the series’ backers think motor racing can help to resolve it. Until recently, battery cars were simply impractical. They were slow, heavy and expensive and had very limited range between charges. That situation is now changing.
The FIA has been eager to encourage motorsport to lead the motor industry in harnessing the potential of electric engines, with innovations such as the KERS system – which harnesses braking energy to provide an engine boost every lap – already being adapted to mass production cars. From 2014, Formula One pit lanes will have to be electric only.
The arrival of Formula E allows the FIA to have something to point at to highlight its work in this area and it is a response to pressure from the European Commission chiefs, among others, for the governing body to do more to provide the platform for manufacturers to push innovation in technologies around electric vehicles. Racing has long been proven to be a very effective test bed for the automotive world.