German automotive company Audi will step up its backing of Formula E electric car-racing team ABT Schaeffler during the upcoming 2016-17 season before making a full-factory commitment to the series during the 2017-18 campaign.
Audi has been a partner of the team, whose full name is ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, since the inaugural 2014-15 Formula E season. Audi will provide the team with further financial and technical backing during the 2016-17 campaign.
As part of the expanded partnership, Audi’s branding will feature prominently on ABT Schaeffler’s cars on race weekends.
Audi will incorporate Formula E into a factory-backed programme in time for the 2017-18 season.
“Electric mobility is one of the key topics in our industry,” Stefan Knirsch, a member of Audi’s technical development management board, said. “We intend to evolve into one of the leading premium car manufacturers in this field. By 2025, every fourth Audi should be an electric vehicle. The first model for this is planned to be an SUV (which) we’re going to present in 2018. In light of these plans, adapting our motorsport programme and taking up a commitment in a fully-electric racing series is only a logical move.”
Wolfgang Ulrich, head of Audi Motorsport, added: “Audi has consistently been using motorsport to test and develop new technologies further for subsequent use in production. With quattro drive we revolutionised rally racing and subsequently set standards in circuit racing as well. In the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi was the first manufacturer to have achieved victories with a TFSI engine, a TDI and a hybrid race car, so writing motorsport history on several occasions.
“Now we intend to repeat this in fully-electric racing. Formula E, with its races being held in the heart of major cities, is an ideal stage for this purpose and ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport a logical partner for us.”
ABT Schaeffler finished second in the 2015-16 Formula E teams’ championship table. The 2016-17 season begins in Hong Kong on October 9.