Electric car race would accelerate economic recovery and showcase SA

Forget V8s or the Grand Prix. An electric car race is being pushed for Adelaide’s street circuit as part of a new festival. And SA’s business lobby says it will do more for the state than just excite sports fans.

FIA Formula E Series in Santiago, Chile, in 2018. Photo: Sam Bloxham/LAT Images/FIA Formula E via Getty Images.
FIA Formula E Series in Santiago, Chile, in 2018. Photo: Sam Bloxham/LAT Images/FIA Formula E via Getty Images.

Adelaide’s street circuit would host an electric car e-prix as part of a Business SA push to accelerate economic recovery and showcase the state globally.

The Formula E event would be the flagship of a week-long Festival of E-motion, showcasing the state’s technology, world-leading renewable energy sector and automotive manufacturing history.

In a submission to the State Government, the peak business group urges a bid to secure the yet-to-be-confirmed round nine of Formula E’s season in June next year.

The proposal was lodged before Adelaide on September 3 surrendered the coveted season-opening V8 race for 2021, because of uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic over the three-month lead time to build temporary grandstand and corporate facilities at Victoria Park.

Business SA chief executive officer Martin Haese is urging a government feasibility study into Formula E be made public and an economic impact assessment be started, saying SA must act quickly to “secure this golden opportunity ahead of Perth, the Gold Coast or Auckland”.

“Forget the Formula One, Formula E is the future. It’s motorsport, technology, renewable energy and an exciting street party all rolled into one and South Australia is the only state in the country that ticks all the boxes,” said Mr Haese, Adelaide’s lord mayor from 2014-2018.

“Formula E is on a rapid growth trajectory. Its global television audience has surged to more than 411 million, while the online audience is now more than 850 million, thanks to the interactive nature of the event that allows online viewers to race the drivers in real time.”

Mr Haese said there was significant private sector interest in staging an Adelaide Formula E event, which studies from host cities suggest would generate up to $45 million for the state economy.

Formula E stages 14 races in 12 cities across five continents, backed by manufacturers including Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Jaguar, Nissan, BMW and Audi.

Mr Haese said a Formula E street race would bolster the state’s events calendar and complement other major motorsport events, including the V8 Superloop Adelaide 500.

Whyalla steelworks saviour Sanjeev Gupta in 2018 backed a bid to lure Formula E racing to Adelaide’s city circuit, meeting with the-then Lord Mayor Mr Haese and former Australian Grand Prix boss Mal Hemmerling.

At the time, Mr Gupta said Formula E aligned “perfectly with the state’s passion for motorsport and renewable energy”, arguing hosting more world-class events would bolster SA’s moves to lure global investment.

A government spokeswoman said it was “always looking to support events which will attract visitors to Adelaide and support the local economy”.

“The South Australian Tourism Commission is considering a range of opportunities for the South Australian calendar and Formula E is one of those,” the spokeswoman said.

“As with all events the government supports, it’s essential there is a return of investment for South Australian taxpayers.”

Originally published in SA Business Journal.