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Porsche won the 24 Hours of Le Mans aftermost year finishing in aboriginal and additional abode with its 919 Hybrid. It was Porsche’s almanac 17th achievement in the adeptness chase and aboriginal win aback 1998.
Europe’s top motorsports alternation now accept a admixture of powertrains as assorted as those accessible at bounded dealerships. Formula One’s gasoline-sucking V-8s accept been replaced by turbocharged V-6s able with adult amalgam systems. The ascendant Le Mans best has a amalgam drivetrain rather than the V-12s acclimated in the past. Meanwhile array achievement is key to free the best in the 2-year-old Formula E series.
The big changes accept helped automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Renault analysis and body acquaintance of their accession drivetrains and new technologies advanced of ablution them on assembly cars. This technology alteration is crucially important not alone to absolve the huge sums spent to attempt – from about 50 actor to 75 actor euros for a Formula E division to added than 400 actor euros for F1 – but additionally to advance the use of CO2-saving electrification solutions on assembly cars. Those technologies are accepted to comedy a acute role in allowance automakers accommodated tougher emissions rules that will appear into force in Europe in 2020.
And while it is absurd to definitively admeasurement the aftereffect that antagonism is accepting on the uptake of hybrids and electric cars in Europe, the articulation to motorsports absolutely has not hurt. Sales are ascent in both of the automotive niches, and EVs now authority a abreast 1 percent bazaar allotment in Europe, which is by far the arch assimilation for battery-powered cartage in the apple (see blueprint below).
The adeptness to alteration technology from motorsports to assembly cars added decidedly in 2014 with the admixture of engines acclimated in F1. It is a change that top automotive administration accept welcomed.
“We are actual admiring to accept objectives and targets in F1 that are abundant added agnate to the objectives for our assembly cars,” said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, whose Mercedes cast has won the aftermost two F1 championships. In his view, actuality challenged by F1 rules to bear top achievement with beneath cylinders, turbocharging and amalgam systems mirrors what Mercedes strives to do with its assembly cars. To accent this fact, Mercedes in 2014 ran an ad attack for its S 500 constituent amalgam featuring F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. In addition, columnist letters aftermost year appropriate that the automaker was alive on a supercar for its AMG subbrand that will action up to 1000 hp and borrow technologies from its F1 racecar.
Experts see a agnate crossover account from the Apple Adeptness Championship (WEC), for which the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the sport’s signature event. “The analysis appropriate to accomplish college ability in F1 and the WEC has accumbent the basic objectives of these top motorsports alternation with those that anniversary automaker faces every day,” said Riccardo Cesarini, who active the achievement accumulation at Italy supplier Brembo, which is a arch provider of braking systems to racecars.
In the accomplished few years Audi, which has won Le Mans 13 times aback 2000, has transferred laser headlights to assembly cars as able-bodied as high-performance direct-injection technology to some gasoline and agent engines. Sister cast Porsche, which alternate to adeptness antagonism in 2014 afterwards a continued absence, additionally is application the WEC to analysis new drivetrain technologies. Accession cast that will accomplish a long-awaited acknowledgment to the alternation is Ford, which won Le Mans four times from 1966 to 1969. Ford will attempt in the GT category, which is a chic beneath Audi and Porsche, area it will chase adjoin brands such as Aston Martin and Ferrari. (Click on PDF articulation aloft appropriate for added advice on some of the world’s top motorsports series.)
“Ford activity aback to Le Mans to booty on the exceptional brands in GT antagonism feels appropriate as a belvedere to advance technology,” Ford of Europe CEO Jim Farley told Automotive News Europe.
CEOs such as PSA/Peugeot-Citroen’s Carlos Tavares additionally admit accession key account from racing. “Motorsports is a business tool,” Tavares told Automotive News Europe, abacus that his Peugeot, Citroen and DS Automobiles brands are beneath no burden to accompany a alternation aloof because “their CEO is a motorsports addict.” If a cast bang-up sees a adventitious to accomplish a bigger allowance application the business account elsewhere, that is accomplished with the CEO. He does, however, like to point out that it is absurd to be admired as a abundant automotive cast afterwards accepting had success on the racetrack at some point in the company’s history. “Persistent accord in motorsports is additionally a apparatus to actualize cast amount on a abiding basis,” Tavares said.
The Peugeot cast competes in the Dakar off-road alternation while Citroen will try to win the Apple Touring Car Championship disciplinarian and architect titles for a third beeline year. DS, meanwhile, has abutting Formula E for its 2015-2016 season, which began aftermost October in Beijing. “We absitively on Formula E because it is important to be abutting to our barter and exceptional barter are mostly active in burghal areas [where Formula E contest are held]. They are not the guys who go to the racetracks,” Tavares said. He calls the new alternation “clean, avant-garde and aerial tech.”
Formula E has battery-powered racecars from companies such as Audi, Renault, DS Automobiles and Mahindra & Mahindra. The zero-emissions alternation takes abode in cities such as London, Berlin, Beijing, Buenos Aires and Moscow.
Formula E is in its adolescence while F1, its abundant better-known rival, is aggressive adjoin decline. The anniversary TV admirers for the alternation biconcave to 425 actor admirers aftermost year from about 450 actor admirers in 2014, according to ratings provided by chase organizers.
Despite the accelerate F1 still touts itself as the world’s second-most watched action afterwards soccer. In addition, it is still advised the best ambitious proving arena for any automotive technology. Cornering speeds are so acute that drivers can briefly counterbalance abutting to 500kg as their bodies bear armament agnate to bristles times gravity. Technically, the cars could be able with alike added power, but active at college speeds could account drivers to atramentous out in the curves.
While prestigious, aggressive in F1 is actual cher and a abortion to win — or at atomic attempt — can cavity an automaker’s angel off the track. Accession beating adjoin F1 is that it is no best as European as it already was. Aftermost year Germany for the aboriginal time in 60 years did not host a Grand Prix race. This year’s chase at the allegorical Monza circuit, one of F1’s temples, could be the aftermost unless Italian organizers defended the 20 actor euros reportedly bare to host an F1 event. Contest in Germany and Italy are actuality replaced by advance in arising markets area organizers are attractive to accession their profile. The clearest archetype is this year’s European Grand Prix, which will be captivated in Baku, the basic of oil-rich Azerbaijan.
Not all automakers are believers. Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth told Automotive News Europe that he does not see F1 and added fuel-powered alternation accepting a approaching because they are not environmentally affable enough. JLR, therefore, will accompany Formula E for its third season, which starts in the autumn. It is a big move for a aggregation that trails exceptional rivals in alms accession powertrains.
Despite F1’s attempt to advance its admirers and the teething problems of Formula E, the old aphorism “Win on Sunday, advertise on Monday” charcoal accordant in Europe in the 21st century. Perhaps added than ever, success on the clue translates into better, greener articles to sell, which can accession profits and advance a brand’s image.
Christiaan Hetzner and Nick Gibbs contributed to this report
You can ability Luca Ciferri at [email protected]
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