(Bloomberg) — Formula 1 racer Nico Rosberg achieved 23 Grand Prix victories and won the World Championship in 2016. Five days later, he retired as an active driver and embarked on a career as an entrepreneur and investor, focusing on sustainable mobility and green technologies. He’s an investor in the all-electric racing series Formula E, and has funded new mobility startups including Volocopter, What3Words, and Chargepoint.
What keeps you up at night worrying about the climate?
I worry that the electrification of transport is not happening fast enough. We can see global warming accelerating at the moment, and the goals that we must hit are so ambitious. Reducing emissions by 50% in 2030, and then again in 2040 is such a huge challenge, and mobility plays such a crucial role here.
In Europe, we’re already behind when it comes to these ambitious targets. I’m hopeful that we will get there by 2030, but the rest of the world is just as important. If you look at developing and emerging countries, that’s the biggest challenge we are going to face, to also deploy electric vehicles there and make mobility greener in those countries.
So how do we do it?
Cost is important. That’s why it’s fundamentally important to reduce battery costs, because they make up about 40% of the car cost. Thankfully we have seen battery costs drop rapidly—more than 40% in five years. That’s essential to make EVs affordable—first for developed countries, but even more affordable for developing countries.
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A lot of your investments are focused on bringing down the cost of electric transport. What motivated you to make that shift after you retired from driving?
Ever since I can remember I have had a passion for technological innovation. When you drive Formula 1, if you don’t have your car to your liking—and perfectly to your liking—it doesn’t matter how talented you are, you’ll never be able to go fast. You had to make sure the innovation suited you. For me, investing in mobility is a prolongation of that passion.
The pandemic has thrown so many things upside down. How do you think it will impact the electrification of transport?
Coronavirus has reminded us how fragile we are as a society. It shocked me initially. I was heavily invested in mobility, and mobility came to a standstill—however I have now come to see many opportunities. There’s a huge chance to achieve our big target: to accelerate the energy transition, to bring more renewable energy into mobility and to electrify the world.
What gets you excited about electric cars?
The latest high-performance electric car in the world is going to accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometers an hour, or to 60 miles an hour, in 1.9 seconds. Think about that: my Formula 1 car used to accelerate from 0 to 100 in 2.5 seconds. An electric car at 1.9 is madness. You will not even be able to blink, it’s going to knock your stomach out backwards. It’s going to be madness!
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