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Racing Into the Future of a Smart City

The electric-powered cars of the Swiss E-Prix will zoom through Bern this weekend.



Streamlined race cars zip through the narrow alleys of an old European town. Do you need to cover your ears from the deafening noise and guard your nose from the biting smell of exhaust?

Not when the cars are electric.

Almost noiseless and odorless, a steady stream of high-tech, Formula E cars will speed through Bern, Switzerland in this weekend’s Swiss E-Prix, a race limited to cars with electric motors. Last year, the E-Prix racers zoomed around Zurich at speeds that topped 130 mph (220 km/hour), a race that drew 100,000 people.

What will the Bern circuit be like? Racers will encounter a spectacular view of the River Aare, unprecedented “steep descents and inclines” plus a hairpin turn on Laubeggstrasse, organizers said.

CSL Behring, the fifth largest biotech in the world with a leading-edge manufacturing site in Bern, will attend this year’s event along with partner, Energie Wasser Bern (ewb for short), the city's water, waste recycling and energy supply company. The two previously teamed up to support sustainable growth in the historic city, creating an innovative way to save water and provide power for public transportation.

"Cities are places of innovation. And where innovation takes place, important companies and partners such as CSL Behring, who are important for the further development of our smart energy city, put down roots and grow," said Daniel Schafer, CEO of ewb.

CSL Behring, which develops life-saving medicines for people with rare and serious diseases, recently started piping its production wastewater to the city's wastewater treatment plants, where it is converted into an alternative fuel. That fuel feeds the city's public transportation system. CSL Behring also captures heat from its production facility to warm the adjacent football (soccer) stadium during the cold season. And just in time for the Swiss E-Prix kick-off, the company is switching its fleet of vehicles from gas-powered to electric cars.

At the E-Prix event, ewb and CSL Behring, will share a booth, where visitors can race cars on a miniature track and try Birdly®, a virtual reality experience that will have them flying high above Bern. Back down at ground level, there will be a lot of action to watch as the Formula E racers vie to be crowned champ of the Julius Baer Swiss E-Prix 2019. Organizers call it “the world’s most prestigious championship for electric race cars.”