Neuburg, Germany - This is Audi’s first pure electric race car, the e-tron FE04, revealed last night in Neuberg, which will compete in the 2018 Formula E series, starting on 2 December in Hong Kong.
In fact, it’s Audi’s first single-seater since the monstrous rear-engined Auto Union Grand Prix cars of the 1930s, which had supercharged six-litre V16 engines in cars that weighed less than 750kg.
Audi is the first German carmaker to compete in the battery-car series, and the FE04 is the poster child for its road-going e-tron, due to debut in 2018, and a 20-strong range of electrified models, including plug-in hybrids and pure electrics, that will join the Audi lineup by 2025.
It has joined forces with the Abt motorsport family and electric mobility specialist Schaeffler to form Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, with former works Audi endurance racer Allan McNish as team principal and drivers Lucas di Grassi (33) - the reigning Formula E champion and also a current Audi endurance racer - and 24-year-old Daniel Abt, son of team founder Hans-Jurgen Abt.
Di Grassi and Abt have been Formula E team-mates with the former Team Abt for the past three seasons, and in 33 races so far have posted six wins, four poles and 24 podium finishes. Di Grassi will be racing with the number 1, while Abt will carry the number 66 on his car, which will also have flashes of red on its white, metallic green and black livery so that the crews can tell them apart at a distance.
All Formula E cars are based on the same Spark chassis, designed and built by Dallara in Varano de’ Melegari, Italy and powered by the same 28kWh battery, supplied by the engineering arm of the Williams F1 team. Entrants are free to use their own electric motors, inverters, gearboxes, software and some suspension components.
Power is restricted to 200kW during practice and qualifying and 170kW in race mode, so most development is focused on making the powertrain lighter and more efficient.
The FE04 has an all-new drive train, with a distinctive new carbon-fibre housing and a high-efficiency single-speed transmission in place of the usual five-speed Hewland gearbox - which also gives it a distinctive a sound.
Audi will demo the FE04 the during the E-Mobility Play Days this weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, and both drivers will take part in official pre-season testing from Monday 2 to Thursday 5 October at Valencia.