Developer Enrique Banuelos lost most of his $5 billion fortune when his company imploded along with Spain’s real estate market. And yet, he hasn’t lost his taste for risk.
Banuelos is using some of the money he has left to back a global, startup electric-car race series called Formula E, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its March issue. Banuelos aims to succeed in the creation of a new motor sport where others have failed -- most recently, the A1 Grand Prix race series, meant to rival Formula One, which folded in 2009 after four seasons.
Alejandro Agag, 43, the son-in-law of former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, is chief executive officer of Formula E Holdings and owns a stake. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is helping fund one of the initial 10 racing teams.
For now, all Formula E cars will be built to identical specifications, including 200 kilograms (441 pounds) of lithium-ion batteries, by McLaren Group and other car companies. Spending is limited to 3.5 million euros ($4.7 million) per team per season, or about 2 percent of a Formula One team’s outlay.
To ensure success beyond its first 10-race season, Formula E hopes to lure carmakers such as BMW and Toyota to start their own teams and develop cars, according to Mark Gallagher, a former manager of an A1 team. He says it’s reasonable to think the companies will want to be associated with cutting-edge, superfast electric vehicles: “This is about making sustainability sexy, and that’s a powerful message for carmakers.”
Which leaves the question of whether it will win fans. The first test of a motor sport that’s greener, slightly slower and lacks the ear-splitting roar of Formula One will be Sept. 13 in Beijing.
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