The flagship global motor racing series for electric vehicles, Formula E, will this week unveil the biggest sponsorship deal in its history through a tie-up with ABB, the Swiss industrial technology giant.
Sky News has learnt that ABB, which is headquartered in Zurich, has struck an agreement that is expected to see it becoming the title sponsor of the Formula E championship.
The deal will be unveiled in London ahead of the first race of 2018, which is scheduled to take place in Marrakesh, Morocco, next weekend.
ABB’s involvement will add to growing evidence that Formula E has entered the premier ranks of international motorsport, as electric vehicle adoption gains momentum in a number of the world’s most important automotive markets.
The value of the ABB deal was unclear this weekend, although one analyst suggested that it could be worth in the region of $15m annually to the sport.
Now in its fourth season, Formula E has attracted car manufacturers including Audi, Jaguar Land Rover and Renault.
Porsche and Mercedes have also unveiled plans to join the series as they develop new battery-powered vehicles for the mass market.
Announcing the move last year, Oliver Blume, Porsche’s chief executive, described Formula E as “a perfect environment for advancing our cars in terms of economy, efficiency and sustainability”.
ABB has a major presence in vehicle electrification, from large power grids to electric car-charging points, making the Formula E deal attractive to the company’s executives, according to one source.
The Swiss-listed company is also a leading player in industrial robotics and automation and wider electrification products.
Its tie-up with Formula E will see it joining companies including Julius Baer, the Swiss private bank, German insurer Allianz, Hugo Boss and Visa as one of the series’ commercial partners.
Although it has secured blue-chip sponsors, Formula E remains a minnow in broadcasting terms, particularly compared to Formula One, which continues to draw large global audiences.
The smaller of the two has raised tens of millions of pounds by selling shares in Formula E Holdings, the ultimate parent company, with investors now including CMC Capital Partners, a major Chinese backer of entertainment, sports, internet and mobile assets.
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“The global automotive industry is now undergoing profound changes with the power source shifting to renewable energy from traditional petrochemical, Ruigang Li, CMC’s chairman, said last year.
ABB declined to comment on Sunday, while Formula E could not be reached.