For the first two seasons of the Formula E electric race car series Audi has been a sponsor and gave technical support to the ABT Schaeffler race team. Now it’s expanding the partnership for the 2016-2017 season and will field its own full-fledged team beginning with the 2017-2018 schedule.
The announcement was made yesterday, and the ABT team will benefit from increased technical and financial support before it’s folded into an Audi factory team.
Formula E was launched in 2014 as an all-electric race series to generate interest in battery electric cars, and to promote clean energy and sustainability.
When this season kicks off October 9 in Hong Kong, the immediate visual change to the ABT Schaeffler racecar will be Audi’s four-ring logo on the sides and rear wing.
Audi has used its motorsports involvement to develop technologies that found their way into production road cars, and Formula E will, in like manner, benefit the German automaker’s future electric vehicles.
Audi’s Stefan Knirsch, member of the board of management, technical development, said, “By 2025, every fourth Audi should be an electric vehicle. The first model for this is planned to be an SUV we’re going to present in 2018. In the light of these plans, adapting our motorsport program and taking up a commitment in a fully electric racing series is only a logical move.”
Audi isn’t the first auto manufacturer to become deeply involved in Formula E. From the beginning, Indian car giant Mahindra, Renault and DS have fielded racecars, and this year Jaguar will participate with its first race team.
Startup EV makers Faraday Future and NextEV, along with BMW, are contributing technical expertise to teams this year.
This season’s races will be held on the streets of 10 cities in Asia, South America and Europe, with the final two races taking place in New York City on July 29 and 30, 2017.