Last Friday was unveiled the BMW iFE18, the single seat with which the Bavarian brand will participate in the fifth season of this competition. Find out now what motivated BMW’s entry into Formula E …
Participating in a major world competition with the FIA seal is always a huge investment, so brands need to weigh very clearly the pros and cons of this bet. Formula E has recently been one of the races to attract more manufacturers worldwide, which is explained by several reasons. The most obvious is the growing interest in this championship, but BMW, during the presentation of iFE18 that will reinforce the starting grid, gave several reasons for its entry. Find out what the reasons for BMW’s entry into Formula E …
CHAMPIONSHIP CHANGES Rudolf Dittrich, BMW’s Director of Vehicle Development, recalled that “BMW has been in Formula One since day one,” with the i3 and i8 being supportive cars. But he explained that the end of the single-seater exchange inside the races was crucial for the brand to become part of the starting grid. After all, the previous model “was fun to see, but it is not the image we want to pass,” since it highlighted one of the biggest criticisms of these alternative engines, the lack of autonomy. But now the designated Gen2 cars, the second generation of Formula E, will allow for 45-minute races plus one lap without any stop for a car exchange. This demonstrates well the evolution of batteries.
ACCELERATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF ELECTRIC MOTORS At the start of the season, BMW hopes to be in a good position to attack the top spots, highlighting the know-how gained in electric mobility with BMW i since 2007. After all, its drive + inverter developed by a team of engineers who also works on production models. And that managed, in comparison to the unit of the i3, to make a motor with half the weight, minus 60% of the volume but twice the power. And that, furthermore, right on the first test was working without any problem.
Add to this new features such as an internal 360º engine cooling system, which in a competition like Formula E becomes crucial because the car is taken to the extreme. For all these reasons, Stefan Juraschek, Head of Electric Motorization at BMW, pointed out that one of the gains from entering Formula E is precisely to test whether new solutions are applicable to the series production models.
All these innovations will increase the knowledge of the brand engineers in the area of electric motors, something that will then be applied to production models. In other words, in addition to accelerating on the Formula One city circuits at speeds up to 240 km / h, the BMW iFE18 also accelerates … the development of new technologies for the brand’s production models. As summarized by Klaus Frolich, a member of BMW’s Board of Directors with responsibility in the areas of Research & Development and Motorsport, “I have never known a format with such proximity between competition and car development.”
IMPROVING ENERGY MANAGEMENT Surely no Formula One rider wants to push the car to the rim five minutes from the end because he ran out of batteries. And taking a break for a quick load is surely also out of the question. To ensure that this does not happen, it is imperative to perfect the power management software. This is an area where BMW has yet to evolve, confided António Félix da Costa, one of the team’s drivers. Even because there are opponents, “Audi and Porsche, who came from the LMP1 and who already had software developed that helped them throughout the regeneration phase, in the part of saving energy.”
This is more a knowledge that will later be passed to production models. Advantages can be anticipated in two large areas, which are energy recovery through braking and when entering a destination in the navigation the management of the charge of the batteries for the whole trip. That is, it is a wisdom that will impact a key point of electric vehicles, their autonomy.
APPLY NEW MATERIALS AND PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES Stefan Juraschek also stressed that the application of new materials is something that becomes possible in the BMW iFE 18, making them guinea pigs to see if the advantages deserve that the use is extended for the series production. An example of this research is the silicon carbide, the silicon carbide applied to the inverter, which brings major advantages to reducing energy losses. And if it can be produced on a large scale, this advantage can be replicated in road models.
There are also innovations in production processes. One of them involves 3D component printing, as happened with the suspension rocker. It was created with a new technique, in which are computer software that, after knowing the necessary measures, play pivotal role in the design of the piece. BMW already uses parts made from 3D printers as one of the components of the new BMW i8 Roadster’s top, but it is highlighted by the Bavarian manufacturer that this will be an innovative process for the development and manufacture of components.
The BMWI IMAGE Many manufacturers with a worldwide projection (BMW, Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, Nissan, DS …) are already in Formula E. In addition to showing the confidence that exists in this championship, there is also a strategic interest. It goes on to make known to motorists their proposals and intentions in the field of electric vehicles. And with BMWi broadening its scope of action (as the Vision iNext Concept shows us), it is essential to make fans aware of brand plans.
Taking into account that the tests take place on city circuits, Jens Marquart, Director of BMW Motorsport, said that Formula E allows “to bring BMWi to the center of the cities, to our customers.” And it’s not just about being together with customers, a good performance in Formula E is for any manufacturer to assert its ability in the field of electric mobility. And surely that will be one of BMW’s intentions. [image: P90322336_highRes_munich-ger-14th-sept-222222.jpg]