Plans to launch Electric GT are still in the works despite a quiet period, according to CEO Mark Gemmell, who remains in the process of sourcing a lead investor.
Speaking to e-racing365 recently, Gemmell explained why the series hasn’t launched yet despite having had opportunities to get going with a more low-key debut, and why he thinks the platform is more relevant than ever to the wider EV market.
Updates on Electric GT had been quiet since it communicated its most recent delay in September 2018, with only a few sporadic social media posts appearing to keep the dream alive.
“Since we got our FIA approval, we’ve been focused on raising the capital to launch the championship,” Gemmell recently told e-racing365.
“That really hasn’t changed, unfortunately, but we’re approaching a lot of investors and we’ve got some progress with some of them, and we’ve adapted our business model to meet the investors’ requirements a bit.
“At the same time, we’re watching what’s going on in the industry as well. In the time since we launched, there has been a lot of progress going on in the electric car space and we want to be able to bring the latest cars to the circuits.”
Investors Still Need Winning Over to Electric
Gemmell says one difficulty he’s facing is that investors are less supportive of electrification than people inside the industry might expect, and that many backers need more time to realize the “obvious” fact that electric vehicles are the future.
“What we find when we speak to investors is it still feels like it’s early for them,” he explained.
“It’s quite funny because [for people involved in the EV industry] it certainly doesn’t feel like a thing but it’s amazing when you run into people who are active in the automobile space, energy space or technology, just how unaware they are of just what’s going on.
“I’ve spoken to folks well-positioned in the industry, very active, who actually didn’t know who Elon Musk was. There’s a huge gap between the way we think people are thinking and the way they actually are.
“I have a feeling that there is going to be a point where the investors will catch up with the argument and they’ll realize that – I’m going to say something that’s absolutely obvious but for some people isn’t – the future of transport is electric.
“When the investment community recognizes that, then I think we’ll have our investors and our opportunity to launch.”
‘Go Big or Go Home’
Another reason for the delay is Gemmell’s determination to launch a large international platform that will have an impact on the wider electric car industry, rather than to get it going easily with a low-key regional series.
“From our point of view, it’s very important to do this right, to launch at the right level. We’ve been aiming high,” he said.
“For our investors, the message is not to start small and organically build this up. That’s certainly not the message we’re giving to investors because the general vibe in the investment community is ‘go big or go home’.
“You don’t want to be launching a small national series that may have low media impact, because you won’t draw the sponsors, you won’t get public attention. It will be hard to justify that in any sort of investment sense.
“It’s best to be the biggest and most important one than to be a small niche. That’s really our focus and I suppose that’s why our conversations with investors are more complex.”
He says an “easy option” would be a Spanish national series, because many of Electric GT’s staff are based in Spain, but the lack of media and sponsorship interest in such a platform makes this route pointless.
“It’s a very different story and it doesn’t satisfy one of my main tick boxes, which is to be projecting a very positive image for electric cars worldwide.
“We want to have an impact on the speed at which we’re switching to electric.”
Series Needs to Be Relevant to Wider EV Market
The wider impact that Gemmell talks about remains a key part of Electric GT’s philosophy, and specifically the Electric Production Car Series, which the Scot says is only becoming more relevant as time goes on.
EPCS started as a de facto Tesla series, using the Model S P100D, but as more comparable cars have been launched, its scope has expanded to be open to other cars, including the Jaguar I-PACE, Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model 3.
Gemmell describes the EPCS as a strictly production-based championship, catering for road cars carrying minimal modifications to make them race-ready, rather than using race cars built on a road platform.
“What we want to be doing is exposing the production drivetrain and other aspects of the production vehicle to the maximum stress that you can expose them to with highly comparable professional drivers,” he explained.
“If you take, for example, the ‘Plaid Mode’ Model S on the Nürburgring and the Taycan, we all watched that thing going on last summer.
“There were a lot of questions about those sorts of tests that invalidate them in the eyes of a lot of people.
“That’s the reason why you go racing. Racing is all on the same day, all under the same conditions.
“It’s not just a game, it’s precisely to make it a very level playing field so that you can actually prepare apples to apples. That’s why this championship has to exist.”
Gemmell Remains Confident, Patiently Waiting for Launch
The fact that Gemmell is holding out for his vision of a large global platform that will have a significant impact on the EV market goes a fair way to explain why Electric GT hasn’t happened yet.
He’s confident it will happen because he sees a platform like this as necessary for the EV market; it’s just a case of sourcing the right financial backer.
With this in mind, he admits there’s no rush to launch the series before conditions are right. In theory, a small championship could be debuted this year, but that’s not what Gemmell wants.
“It’s certainly the case that we’ve been looking at investments for quite a while, so to carry on looking is OK for us,” he said.
“It’s interesting to note that, as time goes by, the argument behind the championship grows.
“There’s a fairly obvious deadline: if another production electric car series got underway, that would be a clear line in the sand where we’d have to reconsider.
“There needs to be a championship of this format, with production cars, and if there were another one, that would essentially be our opportunity gone. Until that day, I would say there is still this opportunity.
“Racing can be about specially prepared cars such as Formula E, Extreme E, or even ETCR. They’re not necessarily related to the cars on sale, and that’s quite a popular way to go racing.
“I think at the moment, the way that the electric car industry is, it’s more meaningful for the buying public to see the actual cars that they’d be buying, but with modifications to make them FIA-approved and such.
“That’s what we want to be seeing, so I wouldn’t rest until that championship is running.”