Yes, it's very easy to be cynical about a Tesla Model S racing series. You can't help but wonder exactly what demand it's supposed to satisfy. But Electric GT founder and CEO Mark Gemmell doesn't just see a demand for this sort of series. He reckons it's essential to the future of motorsport.
"It's time to embrace our electric future," he comments. "If you're worried about the environment it makes little sense to race, unless we do something to make the energy clean and abundant. If we do that, we can race all we want for evermore."
Formula E will give those manufacturers a single-seater, it-looks-like-a-racing-car platform to show what they can do with a stack of batteries and a motor or two, but there isn't, as yet, a championship specifically for production-based, it-looks-like-a-road-car electric vehicles. Gemmell's Electric GT could be just that. It isn't a stretch to imagine that some day Porsche might enter its forthcoming Mission E electric saloon, and that Audi, Jaguar, Polestar and the rest might fancy a slice of the action, too.
Renowned Spanish race team Campos Racing will develop and build the cars. They get functional aero, carbon bodywork, race-spec suspension and brakes, Pirelli tyres and, depending on who you ask, a weight loss of between 300 and 500kg. Apparently, at competition speeds the cars will have a range of just over 50 miles, which would be enough for a decent sprint race.
At a launch event at Pau Arnos - Electric GT's adopted headquarters - in the south-west of France I drove the Model S race car for a handful of laps. Except I didn't, because the only car that exists right now is actually based on the lesser, single-motor P85+. So although the car's straight line performance was lusty rather than neck snapping, I did see enough to be persuaded that the hefty Model S could be turned into a passable racing car. Even on rain tyres on a dry track there was very good grip, a neutral balance, rock solid body control and bundles of stability. It actually felt like a very capable track car, quite unlike any Model S I've ever driven.
Electric GT still needs to sign up race teams to run the cars - so far it has one, SPV Racing - and inevitably it'll need to attract further sponsors if it's to make that first race happen. It's jumping through the FIA's hoops as you read this to secure proper accreditation too.
All of which leads us back around to that opening gambit. What is it that compels Mark Gemmell, a man with no background in motor racing, to launch a race series for electric cars? "We're living off fossil fuels at the moment and that isn't sustainable," he says. "The car industry is dragging its heels because it's easier to do what it's always done. But if the public demands the change, the industry will change on a dime. So how do we get everybody out there enthusiastic [about renewable energy]? We do fun things with it, like going racing. We get out on circuit, we go hell for leather fast, we scare ourselves to death and we have fun doing it."
So this isn't simply about giving Tesla's electric car a platform to go racing. Instead, Gemmell wants to harness the inherent thrill, excitement and glamour of motorsport to inspire the wider public to switch on to renewable and abundant energies. I'm a long way from convinced as I type this, but I'm willing to hang up my cynicism for the time being.