Andretti Autosport enters electric car series

Formula E

Andretti Autosport has agreed to enter the Formula E World Championship, an electric car racing series that will begin in September 2014.

Andretti Autosport will look to remain on the cutting edge of technology and sporting innovation, as it announced on Wednesday that it has entered the Eco-friendly Formula E World Championship, which will feature electric cars competing in 10 cities around the world beginning in 2014.

Andretti's two-car operation will join China Racing and British-based Drayson Racing and will feature a primary championship driver and an all-star car for drivers such as defending IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti or James Hinchcliffe based on their availability.

For Andretti, this is just another way to lead the charge as racing enters the 21st century.

"We're in the business of racing and we've been looking for opportunities to diversify," Andretti told The Associated Press. "The more we looked into it, the more interested we got. We like the relevancy of the series because one of the problems auto racing is starting to face -- and is going to face more of in the future -- is relevancy.

"I think relevancy is going to be addressed with the electric cars. It's a good way to hook our younger audience into racing and I'm excited to be involved and be involved at the ground floor."

Like Formula 1, Formula E teams will have two drivers and four Series-provided electric cars at their disposal. Renault has signed on as the chassis manufacturer but Series officials expect three to five manufacturers by the start of Year 2.

Michelin will be the sole tire supplier.

The format and rules might be the most fascinating aspect of Formula E. Instead of fuel, the cars will run on batteries that last up to just 25 minutes, requiring that drivers will have to switch cars during the race while the batteries recharge.

To make a change, the driver will enter the pits, get out of the car and run 100 meters to get into a freshly recharged car.

The cars will be based in England with teams arriving to the venue in advance to prepare them for competition. The rules and the operating budget of just $3.5 million will allow for very little development to the car and will enhance parity.

"They don't want to have a whole lot of development in the actual car, they want the development to go into the electric technology," Andretti said. "They are really going to control that side of it with the rules so that you can't do a lot to the cars."

The inaugural season will be held from September 2014 to June 2015 for a "winter season" on street courses in major cities around the world.

The final planned schedule will be presented to the FIA in September and has planned stops in Los Angeles, Miami, Rome, Beijing and other international locales. Formula E is not expected to run in conjunction with any other series as it would not comply with their message of "fully sustainable" and "zero emissions."

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