BMW, Audi join Formula E racing

July 12, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
To underpin the credibility of plans announced earlier to electrify its fleet over the next years, BMW will join the electric racing sport: From the season 2018/19 onwards, the Munich-based carmaker will participate in the formula E championship. With the move, BMW follows suit to competitor Audi who announced a similar step less than a week ago.

BMW will equip the vehicles of the Andretti Formula E team with a new powertrain, developed entirely by the Bavarian carmaker. The driving force behind its commitment is developing new technologies in the area of electromobility, the company said.

The expertise gained from high-performance powertrains will be re-used in the design of commercial electric cars. According to BMW, already now valuable stimuli from Formula E are influencing the development of electric passenger cars which within the BMW group are bundled under the iNEXT brand. The same engineers who deal with developing future electromobility technologies will join the BMW Motorsport team within the formula E project and an environment entirely oriented at high performance and strong competitors, BMW said in a press release.

Thus, formula E will become a “perfect development laboratory” for powertrain technologies that then will be adapted to the needs of large series production.

In the formula E races, BMW will face competition from Audi as the other Bavarian carmaker. Audi assumes the starting place from ABT Sportsline. The carmaker will rely on its technology partner Schaeffler who provides the electric powertrain. The racing team then will be named Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler.

Together with Schaeffler, Audi is currently developing the new electric powertrain for the next racing season that will start on December 2nd in Hong Kong. Design freedom however is limited; the participants have some wiggle room in the dimensioning of motor, transmission and related body and undercarriage elements as well as in software. “We already have completed test drives in Spain and our factory test track and are well in schedule,” said Audi motor sport manager Dieter Grass.

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