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The fast and the fuel-efficient: Electric racecars take to Brooklyn streets

July 2, 2019 Mary Frost
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams gives the thumbs up to the Gen 2 electric racing vehicle on display at Borough Hall on Tuesday. With the BP is Formula-E advisor Michael Hopper. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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Twenty-two super-fast, super-silent electric cars are coming to Brooklyn this month to battle it out on city streets for an all-electric racing championship title.

The Formula E street-racing series will land in Red Hook for the third time on July 13 and 14. One of the race’s Gen 2 vehicles was on display at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Tuesday.

The cars, which have been described as “Batmobile-esque,” shoot around urban streets transformed into racing courses at 175 mph — in almost total silence.

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The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is the last stop on this year’s worldwide E-Prix racing circuit. The 22 cars, helmed by a dozen teams, are being transported to Brooklyn from Bern, Switzerland, where they last competed in a thriller in June.

Reigning Formula E champ Jean-Eric Vergne is in the lead, 32 points ahead of his main rival Lucas di Grassi, according to ABB Formula-E.

“It’s amazing, the transformation of the track at Red Hook Terminal,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told reporters and passersby gawking at the Formula E racer stationed outside his offices. The race, he promised, “is like nothing ever seen in New York before.”

“If you’ve ever been to a Grand Prix, you know that the noise is so loud you could never really run a race inside a city area. Last year, when I attended the E-Prix, it was so quiet, and yet you had the same speed, the same excitement. It’s a great way of having a Formula 1 race, and this is a great moment for us here in Brooklyn,” Adams said.

The series includes 14 races in a dozen cities around the world. “The E-Prix runs in Berlin, Paris, Hong Kong, Mexico and other countries, but the only place to see it in the U.S. is in Red Hook,” Michael Hopper, advisor for Formula E, told the crowd.

Formula E is racing its second generation of cars during this season, and the technology is evolving rapidly. Today’s cars have more power, greater speeds and a battery with double the capacity, Hopper said.

Last year, drivers had to change cars mid-race because the battery would run out, he said. This year, with proper energy management, the battery charge will last the entire race. “Generation three is a couple years out,” he added.

Adams lauded the work the event’s sponsors were doing through bringing lessons in the technology behind the cars to schools in the community.

The event is not only “a race around a race track, but an experiment that will put us on the right track with electric vehicles,” he said.

E-Prix brought the Gen 2 car to the annual “Touch-a-Truck” Brooklyn fundraiser in May in support of P.S. 295.

The company also brings free tickets to the community every year, Adams said. “It’s the beginning of a tradition in Brooklyn, and it’s moving technology forward.”

This is the fifth E-Prix season. Companies like Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have signed on for season six.

Tickets are $12, and free to children under the age of 12 with an adult purchase. Fans may use ticket code FE15 to buy tickets discounted to $10. More info here

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