Halfway through debut season, Formula E finds its foothold
All-Electric Series Announces New Investor; CEO Still Seeks Tesla
He had just announced that Liberty Global and Discovery Communications had acquired minority stakes in the fledgling, all-electric series. After spending three years creating the series, this was the moment he had been building toward.
So Alejandro Agag climbed into a car and sped around Homestead-Miami Speedway for a few minutes. It was the first time he had driven one of the cars.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but finding corporate backing that could provide capital had been a crucial long-term priority.
"We knew we needed another partner to take it to the end," said Agag, who has previously noted the start-up costs had run $100 million. "... Really, it's the last challenge. That's why I'm so relaxed, and allowing myself to drive the car. The beginning to now was the launch. Now we're in orbit. We need to get to the moon still, but we're in orbit."
Timing for the announcement could not have been better. In the middle of its 10-city, 11-race debut season, Formula E holds its first American race Saturday at a street course in downtown Miami.
Agag had been hoping to use the race – as well as one next month in Long Beach, CA – to generate sponsorship interest from auto manufacturers. Since the announcement, he said he had already fielded calls from several who would now be on hand in Miami to see the race.
Liberty Global and Discovery Communications give Formula E a global media foothold. That's reassuring to OEMs who want to see stability in the series before making an investment themselves. Agag said he's courting several car companies, though the one that makes the most sense as a sponsor isn't yet interested in talking.
"If there's one I would really like, which is not a regular OEM, it's Tesla," Agag said, noting he had talked with Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk about a year ago. "He says he doesn't want to go racing. So we hope to make him change his mind down the road. I think what he's doing is amazing. We want to do what he's done – change the perception of electric cars for people."
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