Commentary

Formula E Attracts Nissan, BMW, Jaguar

Nissan amped up its activities around the Formula E race in Brooklyn this past weekend, attracting thousands of attendees to an adjacent exhibit that featured the  Nissan Leaf and Nissan Intelligent Mobility. 

The first Japanese manufacturer to participate in Formula E, Nissan joined other automakers sponsoring teams -- BMW, Audi, Jaguar. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have signed on for the 2020 season. Non-auto brands also have a sponsorship presence including Harley-Davidson, Virgin, Heineken, Tag Heuer, DHL, Allianz, Hugo Boss and Michelin.

Nissan is using Formula E to demonstrate the power and performance of its electric vehicles -- a key component of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision -- and to operate as a test bed for future electric vehicle technologies for consumers.

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Nissan has been able to bring much of its electric road car experience to the race track, and the series has also served as a high-speed laboratory, says Michael Carcamo, Nissan's global motorsports director.

“The lessons we've learned, particularly in energy management, will help us further improve our road cars,” Carcamo tells DriveTime

In conjunction with the New York E-Prix, Nissan also presented Converge, an exhibit focusing on the future of technology, at Pioneer Works, an event space adjacent to the race. The experiential agency Outpost helped create the event.

Industry leaders gathered to discuss how tomorrow's adventures will be amplified and electrified through innovative technology and forward-thinking design. Allison Witherspoon, vice president of marketing communications and media for Nissan North America, gave a presentation on how technology and data are changing marketing, yet creativity remains the most important sales contributor. 

“There are no more captive audiences,” she says. “Storytelling has become fluid. Traditional forms of marketing have changed because of mobile consumption.”

After the Converge activities ended on Friday, the space was converted to show off Nissan vehicles and technology on the weekend’s race days, along with interactive art exhibits that use technology.

The all-electric street racing series finished its fifth season on Sunday. Nissan’s Sebastien Buemi won the 45-minute race on Saturday while  Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns won the Sunday competition. Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne was named the champion of the Formula E season.

Sponsorship of the Formula E race goes for big bucks. Harley Davidson joined the list this year with a multi-year deal that exceeded $100 million.

The all-electric race series will turn a profit in 2020 and is valued at over $1 billion, which is remarkable since four years ago it was on the verge of bankruptcy. The profit is attributed to media rights, sponsorship and hosting fees. Other cities which host races include Rome, Paris and Hong Kong. 

Envision Virgin Racing, the Formula E team backed by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Envision Group, also held an Innovation Summit prior to the race events on Friday. The invitation-only event at New Lab in Brooklyn brought together business leaders with today’s top environmental minds to speak to the role of the corporate sector in accelerating climate change. 

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