Formula E made its debut in Beijing with a spectacular crash at the last corner which cost long-time leader Nicolas Prost the race.
The Frenchman, son of Formula 1 legend Alain Prost, collided with Germany's Nick Heidfeld, allowing Audi Sport's Lucas Di Grassi to triumph.
"I would not have expected for him to have attempted a suicide move at the end of the race," Prost snr said.
The new 10-race season concludes in London's Battersea Park next June.
The one-hour races - in which drivers have to change cars halfway through, as a battery has not yet been developed to provide enough power for a full race - feature music during the races, as well as a "fanboost" where three drivers with the most social media votes have the power of their cars With Prost complaining that "my victory was stolen", his fellow Frenchman Frank Montagny was runner-up for the Andretti team, while Britain's Sam Bird finished third for Virgin Racing.
There was disappointment for Bruno Senna - nephew of the late Ayrton Senna, the great rival of Alain Prost - who failed to record a lap time in qualification after having problems with his battery.
Forced to start from near the back of the grid, he collided with another car during the opening lap.
Another son of an F1 great, Nelson Piquet Junior, came eighth, as Di Grassi was left to reflect on his good fortune after triumphing on the circuit just outside the Bird's Nest Stadium, site of the 2008 Olympics.
"When I realised that they were off, yeah it was like a dream come true. I was alone and have won the race, and I am really, really really happy to be in this position," Grassi said.