Richard Branson might jump on the electric car bandwagon

Emma Haslett
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Branson already owns a Formula E team (Source: Corbis)

Richard Branson has hinted that his Virgin brand might jump on the electric car bandwagon (the wagon bandwagon?) at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The entrepreneur already has his own Formula E team - an electric version of Formula One which features battery-powered cars racing at speeds of up to 140 mph.

But when a Bloomberg reporter tracked him down in Miami to ask "where is Virgin going with this", he suggested an electric road car might be in the pipeline.

"We have teams of people working on electric cars," he said.

"So you never know - you may find Virgin competing with Tesla in the car business as we do in the space business. We will see what happens."

If Virgin does get into the electric car space, it'll have some pretty hot competition - alongside Tesla and traditional car manufacturers, Apple has recently shown strong signs of launching its own electric car, while Google's driverless car is already in the advanced stages of testing.

Branson has already gone up against Tesla's founder, Elon Musk, in another sector: space, where Virgin Galactic is competing with SpaceX. Although purists argue that Branson's offering is "space lite", giving tourists a few minutes of zero-gravity 360,000 feet above the earth; while Musk's SpaceX rockets have already been involved in resupplying the International Space Station.

And compared with SpaceX, Virgin Galactic is going nowhere, fast: Branson had originally hoped to launch flights from the New Mexico Spaceport "in late 2009 or early 2010". Five years on, the project has been beset by problems - not least the tragic crash of its SpaceShipTwo during a test flight in December.

So it may be a while yet before Musk has anything to worry about...

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