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Vestas shifts gears with Mercedes-Benz Formula E brand-up

Danish OEM inks first major sponsorship since Volvo Ocean Race yacht in 2014 for upcoming ABB FIA Championship season

The all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQ race cars rolling onto the Formula E track for the first time this autumn in Saudi Arabia will be badged ‘Powered by Vestas’, following the Danish wind turbine maker’s signing of a deal with the automobile giant as its principle partner for the upcoming ABB FIA Championship season.

Vestas’ first major sponsorship since its own-brand yacht sailed in the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race in 2014, the tie-up with Mercedes-Benz is part of an ambition at the OEM to “play a larger role in the global conversation around making renewables the foundation of our energy system”, according to new CEO Henrik Andersen.

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“The ABB FIA Formula E Championship is one of the world’s most high-profile platforms for electrification, driving key changes to the transportation sector through the power and potential of electric vehicles”, he told Recharge.

“From our standpoint, we want to be part of the dialogue on how to positively effect the generations to come in the transition to renewable energy and the climate improvements that renewables can do and this [partnership] will help us in reaching a wider audience.

“Both we and Mercedes-Benz are both very passionate in communicating about how we can all invest in a better future,” said Andersen, who formally took over the top post at Vestas from Anders Runevad last month.

Ian James, Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team’s managing director, added: “Formula E is an exciting platform for us to showcase the performance of our EQ battery-powered electric vehicles, offering a completely new kind of experience which combines racing with a unique event character.

“Having Vestas on board as a partner gives us the possibility to go a step further, meaning we can look at the bigger picture. It’s not just about creating an electric vehicle – it’s also about generating the electricity to power that vehicle in a sustainable, renewable manner.”

Though the Mercedes-Benz EQ that lines up on the grid for the first race of Formula E’s sixth season, in Riyadh, in November, will source from a mix of fossil and renewables sources, Andersen foresees a day “not long from now” when the electric race cars will be powered by energy sourced from wind and solar farms.

“We are likely going to be the first company to put up a wind farm in Saudi Arabia [at the Dumat Al Jandal project],” noted Andersen, “but that won’t be for another year-and-a-half. So, from then these [race cars] could be powered by Vestas green energy for some time.

“The [ABB FIA Formula E Championship] races are coming more and more into cities where there is a positive drive for renewables and when that link is there then the next link [to have ‘wind-powered’ Formula E cars] is not too far out.”

Andersen added that the Mercedes-Benz Formula E sponsorship would give him “a very active tool to unite our company thematically for [Vestas’] 3-5 year strategy … and engage with leaders and customers”.

Formula E – first conceived of in 2011 with the inaugural race held in Beijing, China, in 2014 – aims to be a “proving ground and platform with a higher purpose – to test new technologies, drive development to the production line and put more electric cars on the road … in a bid to counteract the climate crisis as well as addressing the devastating effects of air pollution”.

This year 14 ABB FIA Formula E Championship events will be held in 12 cities including Hong Kong, Seoul, Paris, London and New York.

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