Future Thoughts: Julia Fry

Nov 23 2020


An electric revolution is underway not just in the skies but on the ground. Extreme E represents racing with purpose. Julia Fry, the emerging sport’s Head of Communication, is tasked with shaping the messaging for a mission to highlight climate change by bringing racing to some of the most remote locations in the world.

Airspeeder: What do you see as your position in motorsport?

Julia Fry: We are a sport for purpose which is looking to entice a new and broader generation of audience to motorsport. Our goal is to be an influential platform for electrification, the environment and equality.

The sporting side is definitely a hybrid of a few formats. In one sense it’s like the Dakar Rally because we race in the desert in similar looking vehicles, but we’re not on the same endurance level or fuel type. It’s easy to also draw comparisons to Formula E because of the electric element and our shared emphasis on fan engagement, however the cars are obviously vastly different. It is also a bit like Rallycross because of the head-to-head sprint format. But at the end of the day, our remote environments and their serious stories, our cutting edge electric SUVs, and our sporting format make us pretty unique in our own right too.

From the fan engagement point of view, what are modern motorsport fans looking for?

Firstly, the series needs to have credibility in the sporting sense. No one will watch it if you don’t have an impressive car, top drivers and an exciting format. Bringing in names like Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Zak Brown, Michael Andretti and Chip Ganassi are key to this.

However, like anything in today’s society, purpose is an increasingly crucial element. Why are we doing this, what positive impact will it have and how can we all get involved and be part of it? Entertainment is no longer the only factor we need to consider if we want to truly capture the engagement of the modern fan.

Will there be a step away from non-electric motorsport such as Formula 1?

We need to give people a choice. I don’t think you can say to people ‘this is wrong and this way this isn’t going to exist anymore’. That’s not realistic and forcing the matter is not going to bring people with you on the journey. You have to educate people, you need time to build and progress the new technology, and there’s always going to be room for combustion but eventually, it will become the exception.

The likes of Formula E, Extreme E and Airspeeder – will accelerate the investment in this new technology and will build the performance side of things. We need to make sure it’s exhilarating to watch. That’s why people are drawn to F1 – it’s at the top of its game, it includes the best athletes and it’s great fun to watch. We are all working to make these new sports credible and compelling in their own right.

What will the future of mobility entail and how will it be different to the past?

We’re still in the early stages of the greatest ever revolution in transport. It may feel like some big changes are being made but we’re still at the very start of it – it’s a massive behaviour and perception shift.

It’s not just the automotive partners that need to get onboard – it’s going to take everything from governments to consumers to every bit of infrastructure that goes into enabling this new electric world. We may be further ahead in the Western world but there are places on the planet where the infrastructure and demand for electric vehicles just isn’t there yet and that’s still the challenge and we have a long way to go.

How long will it be before the new electric technology becomes available to a wider audience?


To be an effective platform, you need the investment of the big automotive and consumer brands. Investing in the technology is where we accelerate innovation and build awareness and demand.

Extreme E is built around talking direct to the consumer market. We’ve chosen SUVs because they are the most popular consumer model when people go to buy a new car. Sales of SUVs are rising every year but they’re also the most polluting. If we can showcase the performance of electric SUVs and increase the demand for them over their combustion counterparts, we will have the greatest positive effect. By way of sales and emission levels, but also in improving the overall experience at the consumer level due to the increased research and development.

Airspeeder Mk2 Speeder

Should it be in our DNA to promote this technology to a wider audience?

Sport is the greatest form of entertainment on the planet. With any pioneering sport, especially Airspeeder, it provides an amazing chance to showcase technology and build the awareness that it actually exists. That should be the USP for any partner coming into this. It’s a chance to lead the way, kick-start a new industry and build demand.

Promoting new technology is one part of it, proving it performs and building the credibility of it against the traditional forms is the hardest and most important part to long-term success.

We’re both going to be racing in some very different locations to what the motorsport world is typically used to. What are the challenges and risks of this?

It’s certainly not without challenges. Infrastructure-wise, you have to be considerate of all the base utilities you need. A lot of these places have never hosted this kind of sport before so we work very closely with hosts to make sure everything required is in there from a safety and basic event requirement level. Saying that, there are so many opportunities from this approach. We are racing in incredible landscapes. It’s not just visual for us – it’s meaningful. We talk about climate change but when you can see it happening in these places that you might not be aware of, it really engages people in the greater picture.


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