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Leonardo DiCaprio Puts The EEE In Formula E All-Electric Racing

Its first race is almost a year away but the new Formula E all-electric series has already created quite a buzz, especially now that US actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio is on board. DiCaprio is co-founder of the new Venturi Grand Prix Formula E Team with Gildo Pallanca Pastor, who is also the founder of the electric vehicle firm Venturi Automobiles, along with Bert Hedaya and Frances Costa.

To those of you familiar with DiCaprio’s interest in wildlife conservation, which recently culminated in the award of $3 million from his DiCaprio Foundation to the World Wildlife Fund earmarked for tiger preservation, fast cars might seem a bit off-topic.

However, when you take a look at the Formula E concept, DiCaprio’s foray into the high tech world of Formula racing could be just what the electric vehicle market needs to roar past all those critics with a political agenda (you know who you are), and make its mark as the mainstream personal mobility mode of the future.

Leonardo DiCaprio And Formula E

DiCaprio’s Formula E timing is especially good because his Venturi team just nailed down the last slot up for grabs in the series, which will take place around iconic urban landmarks in ten countries including China, which has been making headlines lately for the more-lethal-than-usual blanket of smog that has been slithering around Shanghai these days, a good chunk of it due to car exhaust (for the record, the China Formula E race is slated for Beijing, not Shanghai).

Bejing will host Formula E all-electric race in 2014

Beijing (cropped) courtesy of FIA Formula E.

If Formula E is going to establish its green cred it will have to start thinking about offsetting its carbon footprint as far as race prep, publicity and transportation go, but aside from that stuff the whole the idea behind Formula E is to jack up the global automotive industry into a more sustainable business model:

Formula E is a new FIA championship featuring Formula cars powered exclusively by electric energy. It represents a vision for the future of the motor industry over the coming decades, serving as a framework for research and development around the electric vehicle, accelerating general interest in these cars and promoting sustainability.

And here’s where DiCaprio comes in, as he says so himself:

The future of our planet depends on our ability to embrace fuel-efficient, clean-energy vehicles. Venturi Grand Prix has shown tremendous foresight in their decision to create an environmentally friendly racing team, and I am happy to be a part of this effort.

And that brings us, finally, around to the “EEE” in the headline above, as articulated by FIA (that’s the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, by the way):

The Championship centres around three core values of Energy, Environment and Entertainment and is a fusion of engineering, technology, sport, science, design, music and entertainment – all combining to drive the change towards an electric future.

Given the global reach of the U.S. entertainment industry, the matchup with DiCaprio seems like a natural.

Now combine that with the engineering angle and things really start to cook. To take just one example, U.K.’s legendary Drayson Racing has teamed up with Qualcomm for wireless EV charging. For now they’re looking at stationary pads (Eaton and Evatran are all over this, too) but mobile, in-road charging is not too far behind, and if you’ll pardon us for running on ahead to the future we could be looking at Formula E as a showcase for in-road charging.

Stay tuned for more Formula E racing news from CleanTechnica and our sister site Gas2.0, or better yet, subscribe to our Electric Vehicles newsletter.

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


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