Gupta backs Adelaide push for Formula-E electric Grand Prix

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Sanjeev Gupta, the UK-based steel billionaire with plans to create a “solar-based” manufacturing economy in Australia, and build electric cars, is now backing a push to bring the Formula-E electric street racing series to South Australia.

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Sanjeev Gupta, the UK-based steel billionaire with plans to create a “solar-based” manufacturing economy in Australia, and build electric cars, is now backing a push to bring the Formula-E electric racing series to South Australia.

The push for the Formula E Grand Prix is being led by Adelaide-based tech entrepreneur (and occasional RenewEconomy contributor) Valdis Dunis, who wants to add the city to next year’s Formula E season, replacing the Formula 1 Grand Prix that was lost to Melbourne.

Dunis says bringing a Formula-E race to the city could bring in as much as $100 million to the local economy, and promote the use of electric vehicles.

“It’s good for the economy, and it’s good for the planet, and it’s what I like doing, promoting renewables,” Dunis tells RenewEconomy.

“We’ve pretty much won on electricity, we’ve just got to tidy up at the edges, and now the new battle is on electric vehicles and transport.

“Some people say electric vehicles are slow and boring. If we can bring Formula-E to Adelaide we can raise the awareness and the sexiness of the electric car.”

He says it could be timed to coincide with the Darwin to Adelaide solar car challenge.

The support of Gupta is critical, given his deep pockets and the potential synergy with an EV manufacturing facility he wants to build in Australia, and his commitment to large-scale solar and storage to provide cheap and reliable clean energy to the country’s manufacturing base.

Writing in the Adelaide Advertiser, Gupta said having the Formula E Grand Prix would “align perfectly” with the state’s passion for motor sport and renewable energy.

Gupta said this would tie in with new industries, including the manufacture of electric vehicles .

“This would also require an educational system that supports and promotes this innovation to ensure South Australia is well equipped to play a leading role in these industries of the future,” Gupta writes.

South Australia is already sourcing half of its electricity supply from wind and solar, and with the addition of a suite of new projects under construction, and Gupta’s plans to power the Whyalla steelworks and provide power to five other big industrial users, it will likely reach more than 70 per cent, even before the 2025 target of the former Labor government.

This has turned attention to transport, which now accounts for around 46 per cent of the state’s emissions. The prominent role of renewables makes the emissions advantage of EVs clear.

Dunis says a meeting was first held with Gupta three weeks ago, and said he readily embraced the idea. Adelaide mayor Martin Haase, former Australian Formula 1 boss Mal Hemmerling, and representatives of Formula E were also involved.

Meetings have also been held with the new Liberal state government and Dunis was confident of a positive response.

Tourism minister David Ridgeway had actually visited the Formula E people in London several years ago, although Ridgeway’s comments to the Adelaide Advertiser were not exactly enthusiastic:

“While we would never say never to the event, currently there’s no appetite for another street circuit race in Adelaide,” Ridgeway was quoted as saying. Adelaide also hosts the Adelaide 500 road car race.

Formula E was established in 2014 and already attracts major car brands such as Audi, Jaguar and Renault, and numerous other lesser known brands.

Dunis noted that it also had serious support from the private industry, and power companies and telco companies in particular.

He says the races in Hong Kong, Japan and were supported by Li Ka Shing, who is a major shareholder in SA Power Networks, the monopoly distributed network in the state.

Documents supporting the bid say broadcasting has already reached 194 countries, over 4.5 billion social media impressions, with China one of the biggest fans (1.2 billion for HK’s races).

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to recharge South Australia further … as also the leader in sustainable 21st century transportation.”

The current 12-race series includes races in Europe, Latin America, Morocco, Hong Kong (twice) and New York.

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22 Comments
  1. john 3 months ago

    The logical state to host E Cars.
    Repowering the E Cars with Renewable Energy seems to dovetail.
    The World Solar Challenge is exactly that world wide entrants.
    https://www.worldsolarchallenge.org/
    As an amusing aside go through the gallery and you will read on one of the boxes, while a tech is studying the laptop, a very funny poster.

  2. Rod 3 months ago

    The logistics of another street race are enormous.
    If it must be a street race then tack in on to the Adelaide 500. Otherwise send it out to the brand new Tailem Bend track.

    • Joe 3 months ago

      I look forward to seeing ‘Team Sanjeev’ in his sponsored E-racer doing the business on the track.

    • Tony Castley 3 months ago

      All Formula E races are street tracks as it fits with the message and philosophy of the brand. I would NOT want to see it share the same stage as existing ICE racing for the same reasons. The aim is to bring racing to a new generation and a new market not the existing market that insists on the noise and the smell.

      • Hettie 3 months ago

        The noise and smell have always made me give motor racing a very wide berth. I’ve always hated it. But this sounds wonderful. Not that I’ll be going to watch. Hope it happens. What a great boost for EVs!

        • Tony Castley 3 months ago

          That is the thing it is not for “petrol heads”. If you are interested there are a few of the early season races on Youtube. Worth a quick watch.

          • mick 3 months ago

            i love the noise and smell but it wont stop me going to the track to watch ev performance racing

          • Michael Murray 3 months ago

            Interesting thanks

            Very quiet !

      • Rod 3 months ago

        The set up and tear down for the Adelaide ICE race means about a Month of road restrictions which seems to be getting more and more anger from the natives.
        The chances of another Month of restrictions are non existent.
        A formula E race on the same circuit and lap time comparisons might even win more support for EVs?

        • Tony Castley 3 months ago

          Yep and that is the extra selling point of Formula E they do around 13 street races in a season, in locations like New York, Paris and Rome. They have it arranged so that they are in and out within a week. https://www.redbull.com/au-en/formula-e-tracks-manufacturers-drivers-cars

          • Rod 3 months ago

            If they can be in and out in a week and teach the FF racers how to do the same, they would be welcomed with open arms.

          • Tony Castley 3 months ago

            This was a big thing for them and their corporate partners… it had to be clean, modern and light touch. That meant that they could get racing in locations that would NEVER allow traditional racing. There is a good series called the business of Formula E on CNBC (I think) that goes through a lot of the ideology, planning and financials. Considering they are just about to start their 5th season the advances and growth has been amazing.

          • Rod 3 months ago

            Thanks for clarifying.
            I look forward to watching my first first Formula E around the streets of Radelaide.

  3. Joe 3 months ago

    I look forward to seeing ‘Team Sanjeev’ racing around the track in his sponsored
    E-racer.

  4. Andy Saunders 3 months ago

    “We’ve pretty much won on electricity, we’ve just got to tidy up at the edges”

    Nothing like optimism!

  5. howardpatr 3 months ago

    Thumbs up to that proposal.

  6. Craig Allen 3 months ago

    The noise from the Grand Prix was horrendous. I remember trying to concentrate during university exams there while they were practising. An electric race will be a radically better experience for the city’s residents.

    • rob 3 months ago

      made me very aroused !!!!!!!!! lol

  7. George 3 months ago

    Send the V8s to Tailem Bend and bring FV to town.

  8. Roger Brown 3 months ago

    Gupta should build EV mid size vans and EV trucks ( Transport =46% of emissions in S.A ). The van platform can be used for passenger cars / suv / utes etc etc

  9. Michael Murray 3 months ago

    Charged with glycerine generators.

    http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/news/2014/september/formula-e-uses-pollution-free-glycerine-to-charge-cars.aspx

    We should run it in summer with a nice big bank of Tesla batteries charged from solar PV. Is that feasible ? Does anyone understand the power requirements of the race ?

  10. Nick Kemp 3 months ago

    The jaguar I-Pace series will be running with formula E this year so an added bonus would be showing people street legal electric cars running flat out. perhaps Mr Gupta hopes to also have a series with Adelaide built EVs running too at some stage in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

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