Formula E is the next big thing in motor racing — here’s how it has grown

By Billy

Motor racing for electric vehicles, known as Formula E, is now in its fourth season has has just announced a “groundbreaking” multi-year partnership with Swiss industrial technology giant ABB.

The annual motorsport series will be renamed the ABB FIA Formula E Championship — the first time an FIA-sanctioned single-seater championship has had a title sponsor.

Though the financial details of the deal have not been disclosed the FT reported a source close to the deal saying it was worth “nine figures”.

Julius Baer, the Swiss private bank, German insurer Allianz, Hugo Boss and Visa have also announced deals with Formula E ahead of its upcoming series.

The fourth edition of the Formula E series will see 10 teams and 20 drivers compete in 11 cities spanning five continents in the fight to be crowned ABB Formula E champion.

The next race takes place in Marrakesh this Saturday, with the 2018 championship coming to a close in July.

Formula E was originally conceived as a showcase and test bed for electric car technology but has since secured interest from manufacturers, sponsors, and cities – all wanting to be involved in a series that pitches itself as future of motor sport.

Former F1 team owner Sir Richard Branson — who owns the DS Virgin Formula E team — has said Formula E could surpass F1 as the top motor sport series by 2020.

Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Formula E, said the deal was a “historic day” for his group:

As partners, we will showcase breakthrough technology on a global scale to fans and consumers who follow the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

According to Formula E’s latest set of results filed at Companies House it brought in revenue of £56m ($75m) in the year ending 31 July 2016. This is up from £14m in 2015.

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Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche and Jaguar have all announced plans to participate in the series in recent years.

ABB builds chargers for electric cars, electric and hybrid buses and electric ships and railways. ABB entered the electric-charging market in 2010.

Ulrich Spiesshofer said the sponsorship was a “natural fit”, adding:

Together, we will write the next phase of the development of this exciting racing partnership and foster high-performance teams. Together, we will write the future – one electrifying race at a time.

Fully charged market

The rise of Formula E comes alongside rapid growth in the consumer electric car market.

Last year it was reported the number of electric vehicles on the world’s road rocketed to 2m in 2016 after being virtually non-existent just five years ago, according to the International Energy Agency.

Registered plug-in and battery-powered vehicles on roads worldwide rose 60 percent from the year before, though they still represent just 0.2 percent of the world’s cars.

Meanwhile, a multi government program called the Electric Vehicle Initiative in June set a goal for 30 percent market share for battery power cars, buses, trucks and vans by 2030 — with China, France, Germany, the UK and the US involved.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s Tesla last year delivered 100,000 vehicles for the first time in its 14-year history.

General Motors however sold twice as many Chevy Bolt EVs — priced at the same level as the Model 3, and with comparable range — in just December as Tesla managed for the entire quarter.

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