BMW Electric Racer

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BMW has finally bowed to pressure to enter a car that will compete in the fifth season of the ABB FIA Formula E championship.

The German firm has been associated with the electric powered race series from its debut, supplying various support vehicles and safety cars. We were at BMW’s Welt headquarters in Munich to see the firm reveal its first all electric race car, the BMW i Andretti Motorsport iFE.18.

The EV race series is slowly growing in popularity as it not only showcases the best in electric motors and drivetrains but because it produces zero tailpipe emissions races or ePrix can be run on city street circuits with little environmental impact. All the key premium brands are now either signed up or preparing to join the series. BMW had stalled participation for a number of years despite having an active electric car i division. The German giant had previously stated that a number of elements in the race series would have to be in place for it to commit to entering a race car. The most important being the end to the mid race car swap that was just that, a swap by the driver from the car they started the race in with its exhausted battery to an identical car fully charged. The Gen2 Formula E race car has a number of rules and shared components that can then be enhanced or changed by each car maker in an effort to get a competitive edge.

The iFE.18 features some unique BMW crafted state of the art technologies and materials, many recycled. Some key components have been formed using 3D printing too. Renewable raw materials such as fibres from flax have been used in the manufacture of the CFRP carbon fibre reinforced plastic in place of some carbon fibres. Copper has also been woven into the space age fabric to aid shielding and grounding. Strong steel drive shafts were specially developed for the lightweight machine. Street race cars have to be tough as they often make contact with walls and barriers. A modest amount of technical details were given to the Irish Times but otherwise the Bavarian firm is keeping its cards close to its chest and away from the competition. The 5.2 metre long car is 1.8m wide and just 1.05mm tall. Maximum power is 250kW or 335hp. In race mode maximum power is limited to 200kW/268hp. The sprint from 0-100km/h takes just 2.8 seconds.

Antonio Felix and Alexander Sims are the youthful pair of drivers chosen to pilot the cars. The pair has worked together as teammates at LeMans before and are excited by the challenge ahead.

The BMW electric racer also serves a greater purpose as a test bed for BMW’s iNext electric autonomous car project. “Formula E is not only an innovative and spectacular race series that has established itself as one of the top race series in the world with a totally new approach to sustainability and events within just a few years,” said Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development and Motorsport. “For BMW, it is also the perfect test lab for production development. The technology transfer between motorsport and series production is intense. Our experience from series production benefits the drivetrain of the race car. At the same time, insights from Formula E flow directly into the development of future series production drivetrains. So, I am looking forward to a great racing season.”

The new Formula E season kicks off with the first ePrix in Saudi Arabia in mid December 2018 and runs until mid July 2019. New regulations will see ePrix races running to the clock as range anxiety comes in to play. All cars will have to run the full 45 minute race duration. It looks like Formula E could be worth a closer look this season.

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About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael is Motorhub's Editor. Well known from TV and radio, Michael has been writing, presenting and judging cars since the mid 90's. He is a renowned Producer/Director and documentary film maker. Dozens of credits include: The Whole Way Round (Gay Byrne), The Shamrock Run (Alan Shortt), The Viking Run (Clodagh McKenna) and The Irish 66ers (David Mitchell) and The Climb for Kids (Colin Farrell). Print credits include: the RTE Guide (motoring editor 1999-2003), many national daily papers and Sundays including The Irish Times (freelance) plus other magazines. National radio credits include multiple at RTE Gerry Ryan show, the Mooney Show, The Dave Fanning Show, Drivetime etc. TV credits as a motoring expert include RTE's flagship current affairs show Primetime and TV3's Ireland AM. Michael also presented RTE's car show Drive! in the late 90s and directed some items in MPH2 on TG4. Michael contributes weekly on motoring issues to The Last Word show with Matt Cooper on Today FM. Michael has represented Ireland's motoring journalists in Motorsport at the International Mazda MX-5 endurance race series in Italy and the Arctic Ice Race. He has been a Car of the Year Judge for over 18 years and is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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