Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Formula One may race electric cars

Plug-in electric cars seem to be everywhere these days. My office building has a charging station in the parking garage, as does a Whole Foods Market near me. Up until now, I've thought of electric cars as a gas-saving choice for people with a short daily commute to work; an attractive option for upper-midle class suburbanites. But my impression might be about to change.

The European Union has asked Formula One to start a series of races for electric cars on Grand Prix courses around the world, and European auto racing officials believe a worldwide race series featuring the eco-friendly electric vehicles would go a long way toward promoting green technology.

"One of the priorities of my mandate is to give a concrete start to the ultimate conversion of the European car industry," says Antonio Tajani, the industry commissioner for the EU government.

Automakers from around the world are rolling out plug-in electric cars in rapid succession. American automakers have introduced the Chevy Volt and the Ford Focus Electric in the United States. Japanese car companies are in the market with the electric Nissan Leaf and the upcoming plug-in version of the Toyota Prius, while Korean automaker Hyundai has announced an electric car under the Sonata brand.

The EU has a vested interest in promoting European car companies, which are developing electric cars as well. German auto company BMW has announced its BMWi series of electric cars, and the plug-in Smart fortwo electric car comes from a division of Mercedes-Benz.

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