The first electric car to really make its mark was the Nissan Leaf.

It won the 2011 European Car of the Year Award – the first full electric car to do so. With a top speed of 90mph and a range of 100 miles, it was hoped it would jump-start the electric vehicle movement.

Then along came the 2012 European Car of the Year Award winner, the plug-in Vauxhall Ampera.

Now by common consensus, we have a real game-changer in the electric car stakes, the BMW i3. More than any other electric car before it, the new i3 is expected to break into the mainstream.

The next few years should prove exciting times for the electric car movement. And wider adoption could receive a useful boost from a new racing car series next year – the FIA Formula E Championship.

Featuring standard Spark-Renault SRT_01E (yes, Spark, you did read that correctly!) single-seater racing cars, the silent revolution is about to hit the streets of cities around the world.

Starting in September 2014, Formula E will visit 10 cities including Beijing, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles and Miami.

A potential street race around London is also on the cards, with three sites under consideration, although nothing is confirmed as yet. What is certain is that Formula E is will be street-based for towns and cities, underscoring the electric car’s heartland.

If battery technology is not yet sufficiently advanced to allow flat-out racing, make no mistake of the credentials of the technological partners behind the Formula.

Spark Racing Technology has been set up by the principal behind a leading GP2/GP3 race team, Dallara is involved in the carbon/aluminium monocoque construction, McLaren is supplying the electronics and powertrain, Williams the battery and the whole system is being integrated and co-ordinated by Renault.

The McLaren motor and ancillary control unit incidentally weigh a mere 42kg!
Lap speeds will be on a par with current F3.

The Spark will accelerate from 0-62mph in three seconds, reach a top speed of 140mph and have a maximum power output of 200kw, equivalent to 270bhp, in qualifying trim.

This will be restricted to 133kw (180bhp) under race conditions but an overtake button will provide an extra 67kw power boost for a few seconds to match qualifying pace.

The specially-developed Michelin 18-inch tyres will be treaded in design with deep-cut wet weather tyres available for torrential downpours.

With limited track time, two cars to set up, the added pressure of racing in confined spaces and strategy playing a crucial part in the racing, Formula E will not be open to amateur racers. Teams are expected to attract ex-F1 drivers to add to the show.

Qualcomm is a major sponsor and will provide its Halo Wireless electric vehicle charging system for Formula E’s safety cars to be re-charged on the move.

The long-term vision is to allow the cars to be similarly charged by passing through a charging lane. This would do away with the need for pit stops and two cars, plus the system could be left in place as part of an inner city infrastructure for the charging of electric buses and taxis.

As more people migrate to cities, the potential for Formula E to act as a catalyst for early adoption of electric cars is clear. Make no mistake, the wheels of automotive revolution are turning!