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5 Reasons Formula E Racing Will Succeed Globally

As the new kid on the block, Formula E will face a few challenges. We think it's up to the task. Here's why the all-electric championship is poised to attract the new global audience.

It’s not often that a new sport or championship series is added to the sporting/entertainment world. It can be a gamble, and new entrants face challenges: Will the format work? Will sponsors support a newcomer? Is there an audience? In essence: will this catch on?

Just two months out from the debut of Formula E—the world’s first fully-electric racing series and Formula 1’s cousin—the folks at FIA are betting on “yes” to all these questions. And they have good reason to be confident.

1. We know the model works.

FE may be new, but its organizers are not, and they’re basing FE on the tried-and-true format that’s already proven successful for F1. Road courses in major cities around the globe, weekend races with activities before and after, and similar team structures.

Differences include fewer races (10 spread evenly across 10 months) and shorter race weekends (Friday/Saturday only), both of which should lower new fans’ barrier to entry.

FE will also add environmental conferences, fundraising, and high-profile concerts/parties in each city.

2. It already feels global.

Like F1, FE’s courses include urban landscapes around the globe, including Beijing, London, and Monte Carlo. (Fun side note: the two US cities on this list, L.A. and Miami, have not hosted F1 races, so these will be completely new courses!)

FE has already lined up an impressive broadcast footprint. ITV in the UK, CCTV in China, TV Asahi in Japan, and Fox Sports has exclusive rights in the US plus 80 other territories. Total audience potential: 308.8 million households.

And it’s attracting global brands right out of the gate. Founding partners include Renault, TAG Heuer, Michelin, DHL, and Qualcomm, with teams racing under banners including Audi Sport, Virgin, Mahindra, and Venturi (which also happens to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s team, who is practically an additional brand himself).

There may be some brick-and-mortar retailers joining at the national levels or signing on beneath individual teams, but FE seems especially well-poised to attract the brands that transcend borders, particularly within the tech sector.

3. Tech appeal.

This competition is as much rooted in engineering and tech as it is in driver technique. FE is positioning itself as a hotbed for R&D on electric vehicles, hoping to incubate big advances in battery life and efficiency. And in season two, vehicle guidelines will open up, allowing teams to design and develop their own cars within FE guidelines, which will be fun for both the racing industry and EV enthusiasts to watch.

4. Environmental responsibility.

FE is a “low carbon championship,” of course beginning with the cars themselves. But it goes deeper. Race weekends will incorporate environmental conferences and programming centered on issues of local concern. And the night before each race, FE will host a black tie gala to raise funds for local environmental charities.

We expect this will grow into an appealing opportunity for sponsors to blend traditional racing hospitality with corporate responsibility.

5. It just feels fresh.

You’ve got electric cars. Urban courses in very cool cities. Teams owned by Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson. Live music and parties. Social responsibility, which we know plays well with millenials and younger.

Plus, it’s racing—it’s inherently entertaining. If FE isn’t the thing to draw new audiences to racing while serving die-hards a little something different, we don’t know what is.

Image credit: FIA / Formula E: http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2014/july/insight-formula-e-pre-season-testing.aspx

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