This Monday, Formula E lost one of its biggest backers, Audi, which will depart the electric open-wheel series to race the WEC’s new top class of hybrid prototypes and the Dakar Rally on electric power. Wednesday, BMW followed this blow with one of its own, announcing it too will quit Formula E after the coming 2020-2021 season, having learned everything it can from the series.
“When it comes to the development of e-drivetrains, BMW Group has essentially exhausted the opportunities for this form of technology transfer in the competitive environment of Formula E,” said the automaker about its 24 races thus far in Formula E, during which it has claimed four pole positions, nine podiums, and four wins. The Bavarian marque added that it came away with “new findings regarding energy management and energy efficiency, the transfer of software for power electronics from racing to production, and an improvement in the power density of the e-motors.”
BMW says it will use the expertise it gleaned from Formula E in future electrified road cars, of which it hopes to scale up production rapidly, its goal being to sell a total of one million by the end of 2021. The Bavarian marque hopes this number can escalate to seven million by 2030, by which point it hopes hybrids and EVs will make up two-thirds of its sales volume—though presumably fewer recalls as they have of late.
Leaving Mercedes-AMG and Porsche to represent Germany in Formula E further diminishes BMW’s already shrinking involvement in motorsport, which is starting to resemble that of Volkswagen. A week after Audi’s factory support of Germany’s historic touring car series DTM wrapped at the Hockenheimring, a former BMW motorsport official suggested to Motorsport that BMW may not be present for the 2021 DTM season’s opening races. Both Audi and BMW have shown support for DTM’s new technical regulations which position it as a sort of GT3-plus series, and participation later in the season looks probable, but it’s clear the big M doesn’t mean to BMW what it used to. That, of course, has been obvious to those who have tracked M cars’ perceived decline over the years.
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