With the FIA Formula E Championship turning from novelty into established racing series, automakers are clamoring to get in on the action. And the latest is Audi.
The German automaker was one of the first to join the series by backing the ABT team. But more than providing a bit of advice and cash to get its logo on the side of the car, Audi is now taking the team under its wing as a full “factory-backed motorsport program” akin to its participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship and DTM.
The increased involvement will start with the upcoming season opener in Hong Kong next month. Audi notes that it was the first to win at Le Mans with a diesel engine, and now it hopes to repeat the feat under electric power in the burgeoning single-seater series. That will initially boil down to “financial and technical support,” but for the following season, it will ramp up to “a fully fledged factory commitment,” wherein “Audi Sport will be joining the development step by step in close cooperation with technology partner Schaeffler.”
“By 2025, every fourth Audi should be an electric vehicle,” said Audi development chief Dr. Stefan Knirsch. 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.”
Other automakers competing in the series include Renault, Citroën, Jaguar, and Mahindra, along with electric carmakers Venturi and Faraday Future. Volvo is also said to be evaluating increased involvement, as are Nissan and Honda, while BMW provides support vehicles.