Two weeks ago whilst walking the streets in Rome, I noticed a group of people wearing Formula E branded clothes. Suddenly, I was in the middle of Formula E supporters… and there were lots of them!
I’ve watched the ePrix races a couple of times and I always found them very entertaining, but I never realised how big they were becoming before my weekend in the Eternal City.
Impressed by the Rome event, I decided to explore why car brands and sponsors are investing and why you should keep an eye on this new racing competition.
First of all, what is Formula E?
Most of the time the answer you receive is: “It’s like Formula One but electric”. This statement is a bit too short and I would also add that it’s like comparing apples and pears.
Formula E is the first world championships for electric vehicles, who run only in the city centres of the most famous and important cities in the world (New York, Paris, Rome, London, Hong Kong…).
Automotive brands who share their interest in sustainable mobility, compete to win the title, but they also take this opportunity to develop the technology we will see in the next few years. In the past, this was the job of F1.
The fact: There are more automotive teams in Formula E than in Formula One
At the moment in F1, there are only four teams who actually build the motors: Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Honda. While in Formula E there are eight teams. And in two years there will be ten:
As you can see many of these big brands are not investing in F1, but they are confident about the value of this new racing competition and they are recognising that the future of the automotive industry is electric.
Formula E has also caught the interest of Sergio Marchionne, Chairman & CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. There are some rumours of an entrance of the FCA Group in the circuit with an electric Maserati in 2019/2020.
It attracts the most wanted generation: Generation Y
From the very beginning of the race series, the intention of the management was to market the Formula E as a youthful series for a new type of fans.
One of the most talked about innovations introduced in the race is the FanBoost. Viewers can vote via social media for their favourite driver; the three winners get an extra boost of 100 kJ energy during the race.
Of course, FanBoost is not designed for old core motor racing fans, but for the Millennials, who also seem to like the idea of having the full event in one day (the qualifying and the race).
Unlike F1 and other motor sports, attending a Formula E race is relative cheap (around 30 Euros) and it offers different events during the day such as eSports and Virtual Reality events. One of the most innovative feature is the use of the music, which plays a major role.
Alejandro Agag (Formula E Founder and CEO) commented: “While traditional fans attend races purely for the on-track action, millennials expect a broader experience. With our focus on music entertainment, we tap into a key aspect of their lives.”
Electronic dance music is played track-side, not only before the race but also during the action, to add excitement and compensate for the low noise levels of the cars.
Brands: sustainability is the future
Sustainability is at the heart of the Formula E championship, Agag commented: “We offer a story about using technology to make the world better, to try to make cities less polluted. Our millennial fans and our sponsors relate to our core sustainability values.”
Many brands are investing in Formula E. Just last January, ABB, the Swiss engineering group, announced that it will become the main title sponsor. A huge investment that makes sense since ABB builds electric car charging stations and is working on other technologies around the electrification of vehicles.
Also, DHL, a logistic partner of Formula E, is committed to cutting carbon in its operations by optimizing the schedule of the race calendar and by using different way of transports such as trains and ships instead of airplane or cars.
And Enel, the giant Italian manufacturer and distributor of electricity and gas, is committed to optimising clean energy generation and distribution too.
Thanks to this commitment, Formula E has obtained the endorsement from many celebrities, such as Leonardo DiCaprio.
Formula E is succeeding in diminishing pollution and spreading awareness in the public and especially the younger generations. Here at TheNewsMarket, we strongly support these innovations in the automotive industry. In fact, we will soon be launching Auto Futures, a unique and dedicated channel focused on exploring the future of automotive and reaching media and influencers worldwide.