First Formula E car - live in Vegas!

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IOL mot pic jan7 Electric Race Car 1 AP Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi with the Spark-Renault SRT 01E Formula E, before taking it on a demonstration drive on the grounds of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino in Las Vegas. Picture: Hannah Dreier

The first Formula E car - part of a planned motorsport series to put electric vehicles on the map - made its debut on Monday at the annual Consumer Electronics Show coin Las Vegas.

The Spark-Renault SRT-01E, capable of more than 225km/h, will compete in the first Formula E Championship, scheduled to start in Beijing in September, at the first of 10 races to be sponsored by the FIA, the world governing body of motorsport.

Formula E will have 10 teams, each with two drivers.

Paul Jacobs, chief executive of Qualcomm, one of the corporate sponsors, said: “Formula E is the future of the automobile, I think this will change the perception of electric vehicles.”

Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi showed off the car in a car park, demonstrating to spectators and media the capabilities of the battery-powered racer.

He told reporters: “It's a different feeling from anything else; you have to be more precise... but it is more efficient.”

Formula E chief Alejandro Agag said he hoped the series would stimulate investment in electric vehicles and change their image.

“Formula E is a championship with a mission.”

“Electric cars have been perceived as slow,” he said. “We want more consumers to get an electric car.”

Jacobs said the investment from Qualcomm was part of the company's mission in getting more “connected devices” and improving technology in many sectors.

Qualcomm is working with automakers to get more connectivity for vehicle navigation, convenience and other functions, and has a long-term project to find wireless ways to charge electric vehicles, possibly through embedded devices in highways. - AFP

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