BMW Officially Jumps on the Formula E Bandwagon

by Member - Michael Accardi on July 11, 2017, 11:46 am

BMW officially announced it will enter Formula E with a full factory effort for the series' fifth season which begins in October 2018.

The Bavarian manufacturer has already been involved in the series since season two began in 2015 when it signed a technical alliance with the Andretti Autosport Formula E team, and earlier this year the FIA accepted BMW as an official powertrain provider from season five onwards.

As part of BMW's realignment of its motorsport strategy, the company will take charge of the Andretti Autosport entry under the new BMW i Motorsport banner. Andretti will continue to operate the team, but its cars will now run with BMW designed eMotors, gearboxes, differentials and casings.

"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 former IndyCar champion. "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."

But it's not just about the racing, BMW looking to use Formula E as a development laboratory for production-related electric powertrain technology, especially as the series moves toward allowing constructors more technical autonomy, like its sister series, Formula 1.

"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," said Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the BMW Board of Management's Development arm.

"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."

Since announcing a new round of regulations for 2018/2019 --which thankfully includes the banishment of mid-race car swaps-- the series has seen a spate of new entrants and interest from manufacturers across the globe. Jaguar joined the grid this year, Audi announced it would enter a full works team for season four, while Porsche has been making noise about getting involved for just over a year. That's without mentioning series staples, Renault and DS, who were both early adopters.

"We are already seeing in our development work that colleagues from the production and motorsport departments are collaborating in a completely new way," said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt in a statement.

"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."

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