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All-electric Formula racing car shows vision of ‘cool’ tech at CES

LAS VEGAS – If electric Teslas don’t seem cool enough to you, maybe the all-electric racing car that made its first public appearance Monday afternoon at the International CES can change your mind. Check out the video above first.

This Spark-Renault SRT_01E, which made its first public driving appearance in a back parking lot at the Mandalay Bay hotel, is part of an effort to launch a Formula E racing series around the world starting this September in Beijing. There are 10 teams and 20 drivers set for 10 races in cities that include Los Angeles and Miami in 2015.

Although the car did emit a whiny buzz not unlike a small-radio controlled toy, these babies are supposed to go from zero to 60 in three seconds and top out at about 140 mph. Sure, they’ll have to stop and recharge every 20 to 30 minutes, but they still look fun to drive.

Watching this car took me back about 24 years ago when I was a transportation columnist for another Bay Area newspaper. I frequently advocated for the development of more environmentally friendly electric cars. I once criticized a prominent oil company executive for being short-sighted because he called electric cars nothing but glorified golf carts, and he wrote me a letter voicing his displeasure.

He just couldn’t see a day when Prius hybrids are everywhere and Tesla makes top-rated electric cars. But as Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said during Monday’s press conference, there’s still a public perception that electric cars “are not cool, slow, they don’t go very far. By showing these cars racing, by showing these cars in action, we want to convince people to get an electric car.”

In particular, the Spanish businessman wants to change the perceptions of younger generations so that “when they buy a car, the first car they buy is an electric car. And this is a long-term process that will work though technology.”
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