The Bavarians are once again stepping up for a little wheel-to-wheel racing action, but this time around, internal combustion need not apply. Rather, it’s all about the electricity as BMW prepares a bid in the Formula E Championship. BMW just announced its intentions to make a full-fledged factory effort for Season 5 of the battery-powered sport, partnering with the Andretti Formula E works team for battle in 2018 and 2019. BMW will provide the team with an in-house developed powertrain produced under the banner of the newly created i Motorsport division, BMW’s latest racing skunk works, which will work alongside BMW’s M Division to advance its go-faster know-how. BMW says it’ll use the opportunity to advance its all-electrictechnology, which will eventually trickle down to street cars like the i3 and i8, as well as future models like the iNext electric crossover.
“The borders between production and motor racing development are more blurred at BMW i Motorsport than in any other project,” says Klaus Frohlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development. BMW’s timing coincides with recent rule changes that made Formula E participation more appealing to the automaker, including “omission of the car changeover” seen in previous seasons. Meanwhile, the Andretti team provides a natural fit for BMW, given the past collaboration between the two organizations. “I couldn’t pick a more prestigious or historic manufacturer to work with in Formula E,” says Michael Andretti.
The push for ever-faster electric car development and adoption doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, and BMW’s new foray into Formula E will surely quicken the pace even further. After all, Jaguar, Renault, and Citroen are already there, while Audi says its on the way as well. Even Mercedes is looking like it could join the fray.
If you’re a fan of all-electric performance, this is exciting news indeed. If not, well, this probably looks like another nail in the coffin of “how things used to be” in the world of motorsport. Which side of the fence do you fall on? Let us know in the comments.
Formula E a platform for the mobility of the future and a technological laboratory for BMW iNEXT and other future generations of BMW i models.
• BMW drivetrain to be used by the Andretti Formula E works team from Season 5 (2018/19) onwards.
• New, integrated development approach in the field of electromobility with BMW i.
• BMW i Motorsport is a central component in the BMW Group’s strategic realignment on the racetrack.
Munich. BMW is bringing electromobility up to race speed: Initially revealed as a goal in 2016 as part of the realignment of the motorsport strategy within the BMW Group, BMW will join the FIA Formula E Championship as an official manufacturer in Season 5 (2018/19). The cars, equipped with a completely newly-developed BMW drivetrain, will be run by the Andretti Formula E team as BMW’s works entry in the series. Together, BMW and Andretti will compete in exciting races at the heart of some of the biggest cities around the world. The main driving force behind the new BMW i Motorsport is the development of innovative technology in the field of electromobility, in which the company has established a leading role over the past ten years. The consistent implementation of the new motor racing strategy also includes the expansion of classic activities at BMW M Motorsport.
The Formula E project is already providing valuable impetus in the development of BMW iNEXT and the next generation of advanced BMW i models with electric drive. The same engineers that are working on the future of electromobility for the streets also take on an environment that is fully focused on performance alongside their colleagues from BMW Motorsport – an environment, in which they face strong opposition. The experience gained is integrated directly in production development again, in the development of the next BMW i models.
For BMW, this makes Formula E the perfect development laboratory for production-related electric powertrain technology. “Through our involvement in Formula E, we are addressing the development towards sustainable and emissionfree mobility in the automobile industry and are also making a contribution to the brand’s progression to BMW iNEXT,” said Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development. “This project is thoroughly driven by technology. We are using Formula E as a development laboratory, operating under the unique conditions that prevail in motor racing – with very unique demands and opportunities. The borders between production and motor racing development are more blurred at BMW i Motorsport than in any other project. The result is a technology transfer on a whole new level. We are certainly confident that the BMW Group will benefit greatly from the experience gained in the field of electrotechnology during this project.”
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said: “Formula E has developed fantastically as a racing series and, as a new, technology-based project, is perfectly suited to the BMW Group and BMW Motorsport. Forging new paths and driving innovation – these are values shared by BMW and Formula E. Because it is very important for us to demonstrate our technological expertise, we have shown a firm commitment to this project through the registration of BMW AG as an official manufacturer and are facing up to the growing competition there. The changes we required for our involvement will come into effect in Season 5 – these include, for example, the omission of the car changeover. We are already seeing in our development work that colleagues from the production and motorsport departments are collaborating in a completely new way. The result is new paths, which we are forging together in the matter of electric drivetrains. In Formula E, we will demonstrate both our innovative expertise and our sporting spirit. The series represents a completely new challenge for us – a challenge we are happy to take on together with Andretti Formula E. Andretti is the ideal partner for this mission. The name needs no introduction in international motor racing. Our cooperation is already working very well, and we look forward to taking the next steps together.”
“Formula E and BMW i are simply very well suited to each other,” said Hildegard Wortmann, Senior Vice President Brand BMW. “It is a totally new kind of motorsport, which we will be taking racing to the fans – not the other way round. Formula E is already demonstrating how exciting, thrilling and fascinating electromobility can be. This sort of emotionalisation is only possible through sport. We have been involved in Formula E from the outset as ‘Official Vehicle Partner’, and have helped shape the series. We are now taking on a new aspect, in the form of actual racing. BMW i and Formula E – two pioneers of a new era.”
“We are excited to expand our partnership with BMW i and serve as BMW’s official Formula E works team beginning in Season 5,” said Michael Andretti, CEO of Andretti Autosport and its global family of race teams. “The ongoing collaboration between BMW and Andretti Formula E has provided a strong foundation for BMW’s entry as an official manufacturer. We look forward to running BMW’s first all-electric racing drivetrain and competing for the Formula E Championship. BMW is leading the automotive future with the BMW i line and their innovation in electric car technology. I couldn’t pick a more prestigious or historic manufacturer to work with in Formula E.”