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Can Leo Give Electric Cars a Boost in China?

China’s electric car market might get a boost from an unlikely source: Leonardo DiCaprio.

Can Leonardo DiCaprio do for China’s electric-car market what the government and the auto industry can’t?
European Pressphoto Agency

The American actor announced earlier this week that he is forming his own team to participate in a new electric-car racing circuit that will kick off its inaugural season in Beijing next September.

Ten teams will zip past famous Beijing sites like the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube at speeds of up to 220 kilometers per hour (136 miles per hour) as part of the FIA Formula E Championships. Promoters say they hope the event will draw crowds of up to 300,000 and that it could help increase the popularity of electric vehicles in China.

“When people see electric cars racing, they will be more confident in buying electric cars,” said Steven Lu of Team China Racing Management, which owns one of the 10 teams competing in and is promoting the event. “It’s a big showcase for Beijing.”

When it comes to promoting electric cars, China needs all the help it can get. The country’s leaders have long looked to new-energy vehicles as a solution to chronic pollution problems, which in recent weeks have hit all-time highs.

China has an ambitious target to have five million alternative-energy vehicles on its streets by 2020. Last year, consumers bought just over 11,000 electric vehicles, according to industry group the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.


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