Crowds watching on as Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) leads the field at the 2019 BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM Niobium. Supplied
Crowds watching on as Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) leads the field at the 2019 BMW i Berlin E-Prix presented by CBMM Niobium. Supplied

Electric motorsports are growing in popularity, particularly amongst a young audience, and in turn making money for organisers.

The FIA-backed ABB Formula E has reported its first half profits and a growing fan-base as its fifth season comes to a close. The audience grew 24% per cent – either viewing or attending events in the 2018-2019 ABB Formula E Championship season in person.

The doubling of the digital audience – and  a cumulative TV audience of over 411 million people – is attributed to the Formula E’s new format Gen2 racing vehicles, using social media engagement strategies that have attracted an audience demographic in which 7 in 10 followers are aged under 35.

The on track audience – encouraged by tracks set up on city road – attracted a record audience at 400,000, and helped deliver a first-time profit (earnings before interest and tax) on record revenue of €200 million ($A322.3 million) for the organisers.

Some facts and figures based on the Formula E’s 5th season include:

  • 212% growth in followers on social media
  • 449% increased interaction across all content
  • 850 million video views for the season
  • 61% increase in video views from last season
  • 42% of videos viewed by fans under 25 years old

The race, which first took place in 2014 and was initiated by FIA president Jean Todt and Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag, aims to reach out to the young fan base by painting a vision of a clean, electrified future.

According to Agag, the speed with which the audience is growing is in proportion to the development of the sport.

“It’s incredibly positive to again see a significant increase in our growing audience across the board, as well as the number of young fans choosing to watch and follow the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Like the next generation cars themselves, the speed of growth is getting faster and faste,” Agag said in a statement.

“The progress we’ve made in such a short space of time is very pleasing and is also reflected in record revenues, which exceed over €200 million for the first time.”

Cars pulling into parc ferme on the podium at Tempelhof Airport, with Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) congratulating first-place finisher Lucas di Grassi
Cars pulling into parc ferme on the podium at Tempelhof Airport, with Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) congratulating first-place finisher Lucas di Grassi. Supplied

The first-time profit means that the race has proven itself as a viable motorsport, says Agag.

“After strategically re-investing in other areas of the business over the first five-year cycle and continuing to do so for the foreseeable future, the rising level of revenue is a testament to the health of our company for many more years to come.

“Reaching new young fans, the excitement of Formula E is helping to inspire future generations to embrace clean energy and in turn bringing them one step closer to buying an electric car. This ties in with Formula E’s vision of moving towards a cleaner future, faster,” he says.

The new racing format, which features game-like elements such as “Fanboost” and “Attack Mode” (unique to electric car racing thanks to programmable power boosts), is also attracting more and more interest from Formula One drivers and legacy racing carmakers.

The 6th 2019-2020 season will see, for example, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz take to the starting line for the first time, while Formulas One champions Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have both expressed interest in the clean and green racing championship.

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