After months of rumors, BMW has officially confirmed that it is partnering with the Andretti Formula E team. The German car manufacturer made the announcement earlier today as part of a larger restructuring of its motorsports program. The partnership will last for two seasons, and at the end of it BMW says it will evaluate the possibility of fully running its own team in the all-electric racing series. Until then, BMW engineers will work with the Andretti team to glean as much as they can about the new series.
BMW is not a completely new presence in Formula E — the carmaker is already the “official vehicle partner” for the series. BMW’s hybrid i8 supercar has served as the Formula E safety car since the first season, and its electric i3 is also the series’ medical car. But — like with many other automakers — electric vehicles appear to be a big part of BMW’s future, so getting involved with Formula E on a more technical level now could benefit the company in the long run. And with Formula E expanding to more cities (like New York), it’s a growing promotional opportunity for that side of the business, too.
BMW is the latest major car manufacturer to get involved in Formula E ahead of the third season. Audi recently increased its involvement with the second-place-finishing ABT team, and the carmaker plans to run a team outright by next season. Jaguar announced it was joining Formula E last winter, and will run its first race (with Panasonic as its title sponsor) when the third season starts on October 9th. And, earlier this summer, Faraday Future — the secretive California-based electric car company — announced a technical partnership with Dragon Racing, the team run by Jay Penske (Roger Penske’s son).
These manufacturers join the ones who were already deeply involved in Formula E, like Citroën DS, Mahindra, NextEV, and Renault, which has won both team championships so far. Others, like Nissan, are also rumored to be interested in joining the series.