Formula E World Championship: A carbon-neutral formula for a post-pandemic recovery

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Family friendly. Planet friendly. And probably most importantly, ear-friendly.

Those are just some of the selling points Vancouver city council is presented with in a motion to bring a Formula E World Championship to Vancouver next summer.

Councillors Sarah Kirby-Yung and Michael Wiebe have brought forth the proposal, which in addition to including a race weekend of the all-electric, open wheel racing series, would feature musical and cultural events, and a conference focusing on climate change and sustainability.

According to the motion, the city has been approached by a private Canadian promoter of the Formula E World Championship, the OSS Group, to stage the race weekend in July of next year in the False Creek area.

“The real driving force for me is around looking at COVID-19’s economic recovery, and the importance of having economic stimulus events, particularly for our hard-hit tourism sector,” said Kirby-Yung. “And it is a net-zero (emission) event, certified by the UN. And it’s not just the race element in terms of demonstrating electrified transportation. And the idea of bringing that level of dialogue into the city with leading experts from the electrification space as we work towards sustainable transportation will have a lot of benefits for the city.”

In terms of economic impact, the OSS Group projects the event would generate about $80 million in economic impact and 3,000 jobs through 195 suppliers, 90 per cent of whom would be local.

“I think it’s a win, win, win,” Kirby-Yung said. “You get a great event, you support your tourism sector, you’re advancing the dialogue around sustainable transportation and you’re doing so with zero investment from taxpayers.”

That last point, the councillor noted, was key in bringing the motion to council: “There is no investment required by the city to host the event, and any city services that are used will be fully covered by the organizer.”

The ABB Formula E series launched in 2014 as a showcase to exhibit sustainable mobility, attracting some of the world’s biggest automakers who saw the all-electric format as an ideal opportunity to do real world research and development on battery management systems. Many of the current generation of road-going EVs from Nissan, Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes-Benz have technology born out of Formula E. The series also makes a point of trying to hold races in urban areas, where electric mobility is most efficient and adaptable. Over its seven seasons, pop-up tracks have been placed on streets in a number of major cities, including Paris, Rome, New York, Hong Kong, Mexico City and Santiago, Chile.

According to the motion, the OSS Group has committed to a number of conditions, probably most importantly to address neighbourhood considerations and impacts through dialogue with False Creek-area residents throughout the race planning process.