Richard Branson teases Virgin electric car release

A battle between two billionaire entrepreneurs could be about to intensify with Richard Branson teasing that his Virgin Group business may be entering the automobile industry.

Elon Musk’s company SpaceX already competes with Branson’s Virgin Galactic in the private space race and another Musk-owned firm Tesla is heavily engaged in the electric car industry.

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Speaking to Bloomberg TV, Mr Branson suggested that the competition between the entrepreneurs is set to increase.

"We have teams of people trying to work on electric cars," he said. "You never know. You may well find Virgin competing with Tesla in the car business as we do in the space business. We'll see what happens."

The Virgin Group owner is already involved in the automobile sphere, of sorts, but so far has restricted his efforts to racing cars. Virgin Racing is one of the sponsors of a Formula E racing series, which sees electric cars engaged in Grand Prix style events. The cars are capable of reaching speeds in excess of 150mph and are far quieter than traditional racers.

Although Tesla undoubtedly has more experience, having been founded more than a decade ago, it would take a brave man to dismiss Branson’s attempts to enter the automobile industry. Since starting his business empire with a record shop on Notting Hill Gate, Richard Branson has gone on to operate businesses in aviation, broadcasting, telecommunications and many other areas.

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That being said, the race to dominate the electric car market is becoming increasingly competitive. Aside from Tesla, many traditional car manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes and Nissan have also released electric or hybrid powered cars. The environmental benefits of using low emission vehicles has seen governments around the world look to subsidise their development. Last year, the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg unveiled a £2.5 million scheme to encourage the growth of electric car companies.