More than just the drivetrain: other in-house developments on the BMW iFE.18.

BMW:More than just the drivetrain: other in-house developments on the BMW iFE.18.

Munich. The BMW iFE.18, with which the BMW i Andretti
Motorsport team won the opening round of this season’s ABB FIA
Formula E Championship, consists of many features developed
internally at BMW, as well as the standard parts stipulated in the
regulations. The most obvious of these is the Racing eDrive01
drivetrain. However, the engineers at BMW i Motorsport had many
other areas, in which to apply their know-how. An overview of BMW’s
in-house developments for the BMW iFE.18:


Rear-end structure and rear suspension.

As well as the drivetrain, the rear-end and the rear suspension are
the two areas where the BMW i Motorsport engineers had the greatest
leeway for their own developments. While the chassis, battery and
tyres are standard Formula E parts, in order to keep a lid on costs,
the engineers at BMW i Motorsport designed the rear axle, including
suspension and shock absorbers, themselves and integrated the
drivetrain in the rear part of the car. As each drivetrain has its own
individual properties, each team is responsible for integrating the
drivetrain into the rear-end structure of the cars and finding a
cooling set-up that suits these properties.

The team can configure typical set-up parameters on the chassis of
the BMW iFE.18, such as spring rates, anti-roll bars, ride height, toe
and camber. The chassis set-up plays an important role in achieving
maximum mechanical grip on the tarmac surfaces of the street circuits,
some of which are very uneven compared to permanent racetracks. It is
also important that both the chassis and the rear-end structure are
robust enough to cope with driving over aggressive kerbs and light
contact with the barriers on the street circuits used in Formula E.

The so-called Generative Design process was used when developing
various components. This made it possible to directly derive the
design of the components from the load cases, with the assistance of
computers, to incorporate the experience and expertise of the BMW i
Motorsport engineers, and then to produce the components from
aluminium using a 3D printing procedure. In the case of other
components, this combination of know-how and technology has made it
possible to very efficiently integrate various functions, such as in
the cooling circuits, in very few parts.

The many years of experience possessed by BMW i Motorsport engineers
in the development and production of fibre-reinforced plastics really
came into its own in the design of the rear-end structure. The
structure is not only very light, but a wide range of functions have
also been integrated directly into the structure. The crash load
requirements of the sporting authorities were also met in full and
without any problems at the first attempt.

The topic of sustainability also plays a major role in the
development of the BMW iFE.18. BMW i Motorsport engineers are working
very closely with their colleagues in production to increasingly
integrate renewable resources in suitable components.

Brake-by-wire system.

Another major in-house BMW development is the electronic,
brake-by-wire braking system. The introduction of this system
represents a big technological step for Formula E and, in this regard,
takes it to the same level as Formula 1 and the LMP1 category in the
FIA World Endurance Championship. As of Season 5, brake-by-wire
controls the relationship between mechanical braking force, when the
driver pushes the brake pedal, and the braking effect generated by
energy harvested during deceleration and braking. When the motor
recovers energy from the braking process during the race, it basically
functions as an additional brake on the rear axle of the car.
Previously, drivers had to manually adjust the brake balance to
balance the additional braking effect. The electronics on the BMW
iFE.18 now perform this balance.

The integration of the brake-by-wire system and, above all, the
software logic developed by the BMW i Motorsport engineers,
significantly increases the regeneration potential – the maximum
amount of energy that can be fed back into the battery when braking.
Finding the best possible configuration of this software is crucial to
be able to contest the entire race distance with maximum power from
the battery, whilst complying with the amount of energy permitted by
the regulations. In practice, overcoming this challenge requires the
engineers to achieve the best possible relationship between speed and
energy management. Their task is to calculate a race time optimisation
with the limited amount of energy. It is important to keep sight of
all the race action – to read the data and to anticipate what may be
coming – to then decide, together with the driver, in which phases of
the race it is better to save energy and when to attack, to make up
positions or open a gap to the cars behind.

An overview of standard parts and in-house BMW developments on
the BMW iFE.18:

Standard parts:

  • Chassis (Spark Racing Technology)
  • Battery (McLaren)
  • Tyres (Michelin)

BMW developments:

  • Racing eDrive01 drivetrain
  • Gearbox, differential and drive shafts
  • Drivetrain cooling
  • Rear-end structure
  • Rear suspension
  • Springs, shock absorbers und anti-roll bars
  • 12V electrics / electronics
  • Brake-by-wire system
  • Software (on-car / off-car)
  • Oil development (together with Shell)

Note to editors:

You can find a detailed description of the drivetrain on the BMW
iFE.18 in the BMW Group Pressclub:

Original Press Release