If you still think that electric automobile racing is the stuff of science fiction, think again: the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has granted the commercial rights to the Formula E series
to Formula E Holdings. That means the proposed 2014 debut of the series is increasingly likely, thanks to strong financial backing.
Formula E will showcase the capabilities of electric vehicles in an effort to promote sustainable racing. Events will be staged internationally, centered around key energy-aware cities and landmarks, and promoted by Formula E Holdings.
As the Financial Times
explains, a total of 10 teams and 20 drivers are expected to compete in the inaugural 2014 season. Cars will initially be built by French constructor Formulec, and are capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in three seconds, on the way to a top speed of 220 km/h (137 mph).
Power will come from lithium-ion batteries, and each car is expected to weigh in at 780 kg (1,716 pounds), not including the driver. That’s quite a bit heavier than a current Formula One car
, which must weigh a minimum of 640 kg (1,408 pounds) with the driver onboard.
If there’s a downside to Formula E, it’s this: races are expected to be one hour in length, yet the projected run time for the cars is just 25 minutes. Even with careful battery management (which will be the equivalent of fuel conservation in today’s racing), teams will need to run two cars during the course of an event.
If you follow a particular driver, that means you’ll get to see him (or her) run half the race, at best. Still, the two-car strategy does add a new dimension to the sport of racing, and battery technology can only improve from this point forward.
While Formula E Holdings has some well-funded members (including real estate developer Enrique Banuelos and investment group head Alejandro Agag), it’s also got support in high places. Agag is a previous member of the European parliament, and former U.K. science minister Lord Drayson is also a backer of the series.
Will the Formula E series
attract a new audience to motor racing, as FIA head Jean Todt hopes? We’ll find out in less than two years.