The electric car tournament, once dubbed the “milk float challenge” gets set to launch in Beijing next year
Sir Richard Branson has announced his entry back into motor racing as part of the new Formula E electric car championship.
The entrepreneur is putting a team together to take part in the inaugural 10-race championship starting in Beijing next September and ending in London in June 2015.
Formula E is described as a fully digital sport that aims to improve the image of electric cars and spark innovation in the industry.
A computer game will allow people to take part in each race in real-time and fans will be able to give their favourite driver a speed boost by voting through a smart phone app during the race.
Formula E cars have a top speed of around 150mph, generate half the engine noise of petrol-engine cars and produce zero emissions on track.
Sir Richard said: “The launch of the Formula E Championship is exciting news for racing fans but also for those that believe in developing the great electric cars of the future.
“The need to create fast, dependable and durable race cars will help to accelerate the sector and showcase electric cars to a large global audience.
“With races around many famous city centres, I am expecting a lot of spectators, plenty of fun and some sparks flying as the competition hots up.”
Sir Richard last competed in top-flight racing in the 2010 (Virgin Racing) and 2011 (Marussia Virgin Racing) Formula One seasons, though the team failed to score any points.
Virgin became the ninth team to sign up to Formula E, which was once dubbed the “milk float challenge” by sceptics.
Now championship organisers say they have their 10th and final team in place, funded by a mystery Hollywood A-lister yet to be announced.
Another team will be fronted by four-times F1 champion Alain Prost.
Formula E chief Alejandro Agag told Sky News: “It’s gaining huge momentum. Of course there are critics and there are also people who may feel threatened, with no reason.
“But we think we will convince those critics … there is definitely a space for this kind of racing.”
Electric car manufacturers are hopeful the championship will spark interest in electric cars.
Sales are at an all-time high in the UK and Nissan is one of the main dealers.
However, the company has downgraded its sales targets citing a lack of charging points as being a turn-off for potential buyers.
The Government says it has installed 10,000 charge points, but Nissan, Tesla and other manufacturers have announced plans to build their own to get things moving faster.
Source : Sky news