The FIA Formula E Championship has announced that leading car-manufacturer BMW is to become its Official Vehicle Partner,
supplying its BMW i8 and i3 models to be used as the safety and course cars for the series.
For all Formula E races during the inaugural season, the German marque will provide two of its new hybrid i8 sportscars to be used as the Qualcomm Safety Car, together with two fully-electric i3 models to act as the medical and driver extraction cars.
The newly-launched BMW i series have quickly become synonymous with visionary vehicle concepts, focussing strongly on sustainability. The BMW i3, which generates 170hp, was launched at the end of 2013 and is the group’s first fully-electric model in large-scale production. Meanwhile, the BMW i8 is the sportscar of the future made from lightweight carbon and aluminium and boasting 362hp, allowing it to accelerate from 0-100kph in just 4.4 seconds.
Jörg Reimann, Vice President BMW Brand Experience, said: “From 2014, the FIA is breaking new ground with the FIA Formula E Championship. Fully-electric single-seater racing cars, narrow street circuits in the heart of major cities around the world, and an innovative incorporation of fans via social networks: the concept of the series is interesting in many ways. As a pioneer in the field of electric mobility, we know that it is sometimes necessary to break the mould, but that it is still possible to remain true to your fundamental values. For this reason, the fully-electric BMW i3 and our low-emission plug-in hybrid, the BMW i8, are still synonymous with the driving pleasure BMW is renowned for. In brief, BMW i and Formula E are a perfect match. This makes it attractive for us to be involved in the inaugural season of the new FIA Formula E Championship. We now have this opportunity as the Official Vehicle Partner and are very much looking forward to the 2014/2015 season.”
All four cars have been specifically modified to meet FIA safety and technical requirements, as well as feature an inductive charging system from Qualcomm Incorporated, allowing the car’s battery to be charged without the use of cables. For the inaugural season, the safety car will be driven by experienced driver Bruno Correia, whilst the medical and extraction cars will be overseen by FIA Medical Delegate Dr Phil Rayner and his team. The cars will be positioned at the end of the pitlane, charging wirelessly and ready to be rapidly deployed during each practice, qualifying and race.
Jaume Sallares, Marketing Director for Formula E, said: “We are delighted to be announcing this partnership with BMW – one of the leading innovative automobile manufacturers. The BMW i8 and i3 models are fantastic, both in terms of performance and ground-breaking design, and with the wireless electrical vehicle charging technology from Qualcomm, it means they can be rapidly deployed, without unplugging, ensuring they get out on track attending to incidents without delay.”
Drayson Technologies supplied and integrated the wireless charging system onto the cars. Founded by Lord Paul Drayson, the company had planned to compete as a Formula E team but has since decided to focus its full attention on developing wireless charging technology, including adapting it for the Formula E car in the future.