Byravee Iyer
Nov 4, 2014

Formula E charged up for more races in Asia

ASIA-PACIFIC - Motorsport’s inaugural electric-car race in Beijing in September drew more than 25 million viewers, of which 44 per cent were in Asia, prompting organisers to increase the number of races in the region next year.

FIA and Formula E aim to raise awareness of electric vehicles. Image from Formula E official website
FIA and Formula E aim to raise awareness of electric vehicles. Image from Formula E official website

“After the Beijing race, we’ve collected more than 40 potential candidate cities,” said Luca Colajanni, head of communications for the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) event. The racing series' first season continues in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on 22 November before continuing on to a series of international host cities through June 2015.

“Obviously Asia is an area where we see a lot of potential, as you can see from the TV audience figures mentioned above, so we can expect a higher number of races in this continent already in season two.”

One of the missions of Formula E and the FIA is to enhance the culture of the electric vehicle in cities through motorsport. 

The global market for full electric vehicles is expanding rapidly with Asia-Pacific becoming a major hub. According to data from the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW), US currently leads electric car sales followed by Japan and China.

“This is the reason why we’ve selected 10 cities (one is still to be confirmed) to host the races of season one, spread all over the world,” Colajanni said. At present, Asia, South America and the United States are hosting two races each, while Europe will showcase three.

Ten teams have entered the first season, each comprising two drivers. Around 75,000 people attended the Olympic Park race in Beijing. In addition to the above-mentioned TV viewership numbers, the race garnered 250 million TV news viewers globally and 161 million online social interactions. For comparison, last year’s Formula One season had a television audience of 450 million.

Renault, BMW, Michelin, Qualcomm, Julius Baer, TAG Heuer and DHL have signed on as sponsors. One team sponsor, financial services company Amlin, said it was attracted to the strategic race format. “It is innovative, exciting and international,” said a spokesperson. “It is breaking new ground and stepping out of the comfort zone—something we are used to.”

One innovative element of the competition is a social-media element: Fan voting up until shortly before race time awards a "FanBoost" to three drivers per race. Those drivers get access to a significant power increase that lasts for five seconds. 

Amlin hopes its five-year partnership with the race will attract strong media coverage and consequently boost awareness of Amlin on an international scale, in key markets. “like the racing team our success depends on a combination of international experience and capability, combined with local market know-how.”

Formula E is keen to woo more auto companies ahead of its next season as it becomes a test bench for new electric-vehicle technologies. In season one, all the cars have the same technical specifications, but in season two the competition will become open, allowing manufacturers to enter the championship with new solutions.

Renault, Spark Racing Technology, Dallara and the technology arms of Formula One teams McLaren and Williams developed and built the cars for the premiere season.

 

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