The governing body of Formula 1 has revealed plans to stage a race for electric cars. The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) says the new Formula E championship will begin in 2014 and car manufacturers are being encouraged to present electric race cars for consideration.
Unlike in Formula One, the new series will see the the eco-friendly vehicles flying around circuits in city centres throughout the world rather than the countryside circuits often found in F1.
Why the eco-twist, all of a sudden? Formula E Holdings, a group of investors headed up by Enrique Banuelos, a Spanish real-estate billionaire, is trying to change the perception that electric cars are slow, heavy and lacking in charismatic. While presumably trying to make a bit of cash in the process.
Speaking to the BBC, motor industry analyst Jay Nagley commented there was a need to show what these new machines can do. "Electric cars haven't been cool up until now,” he said. “Until the Nissan Leaf came along they were basically four wheeled bicycles, with a battery pack and a terrible safety record. So there is a need to change the image."
Critics of the sport say the lack of noise from a high-revving internal combustion engine will put motorsport enthusiasts off, but Lord (Paul) Drayson of Drayson Racing Technologies, who has been developing an electric racing car for two years, argues that Formula E is attempting to capture new audiences.
"What we're trying to do is create a new racing experience. It will be a different type of car, racing through the city streets, before new audiences, in places where we haven't raced before," he explained.
We're certainly not averse to seeing how Formula E pans out.
Image: Drayson Technologies