Audi pins its motorsport hopes on electricity.
Audi has revealed its first official works team entry into the all-electric Formula E race series for the upcoming 2017/18 season. The German manufacturer's entry into the electric single-seater series comes after two years as a supporting name to the Schaeffler-backed Abt operation.
Audi's e-tron FE04 will use a single-speed gearbox as part of what Audi motorsport boss Dieter Gass called 'a completely new powertrain'. Three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Allan McNish has also been installed as team principal of the Abt-run outfit, having completed a season as a special advisor to Audi.
Reigning FE champion Lucas di Grassi, who drove the car onto the stage at Audi's official launch event on Wednesday night, will adopt the number one for the coming season. Teammate Daniel Abt has been retained and elevated to factory Audi driver status.
Audi board member for technical development Peter Mertens stressed the significant of Audi becoming 'the first German automobile manufacturer to compete in Formula E', with rivals BMW (2018/19) and Mercedes (2019/20) committing to later entries.
He also said the e-tron moniker, given to its R18 LMP1 Le Mans cars from 2012, was to link the racing car to Audi's family of electric and hybrid road cars. Gass added: 'Together with our technology partner Schaeffler, we have developed a completely new powertrain. You can immediately tell this by looking at the new carbon housing. The car also sounds different because we're pursuing new avenues in technology.'