“Formula E” will debut next summer with a bunch of cool features — you can ‘tweet to boost’ certain drivers, for example — perhaps none more than the essential feature of the circuit: all the cars are electric and yes, if you watch the video above, they sound like robots out of Star Wars (which could get annoying over a longer race, you’d imagine). The idea is that “racing on Sunday sells cars on Monday” — which seems to have worked in the American Southeast and Europe for decades — so maybe putting electric cars on the streets of global cities will make electric cars something people must own. In reality, it will come down to price.
The racing starts in Beijing this September, and they’re aiming for a total audience of 205 million across their major races (20 million viewers per race). By contrast, NASCAR got about 7 million viewers for the Coca-Cola 600 two weekends ago; while that was the most-watched sporting event of the weekend (it got more viewers than Heat-Pacers and the Indy 500), Formula E is still claiming it can almost triple that figure for a race. That said, the branding is a bit more global — and of the 10 initial teams, they’re pretty spread out in terms of country. Formula 1 ratings in the U.S. are doing better but still not great (320K per race), and at the beginning, that’s probably the brand it will be the most-closely tied to (the cars each go 0-60 in about 3 seconds, for example). Some think Formula E is “coming for” Formula 1.
As for whether it’s the “future of motorsport,” well, probably not anytime in the immediate short-term. (In 50-70 years, it might have to be.) But is it a good branding tool for the coming generational shift we need to make in terms of fossil fuel usage? Undoubtedly. And it should be cool to watch a few of these races. Check out the car debuting on the Las Vegas Strip, for example:
And check out this overall ‘context of the circuit’ video too: