Currently reading: BMW M to use motorsport ties to determine features of future EVs
Motorsport involvement will influence model characteristics, including replicating gearshifts and engine noise

BMW M will use its motorsport involvement to determine the characteristics of its future high-performance electric cars, including replicating the visceral thrills of gearshifts and engine noise, CEO Frank van Meel has revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The company’s highest-profile electrified racer is the M Hybrid V8, an LMDh hypercar that will race in the IMSA Sportscar Championship next season and could be adapted to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours.

It shares its powertrain concept with the BMW XM SUV that will be launched later this year.

Highlighting the issues of ensuring EVs are as immersive as combustion engined ones, van Meel said: “If you can go from 0-300kph with one gear and no sound, how will you know how fast you're going when you turn? In racing, you judge your speed by hearing the revs and knowing what gear you're in. You need that feedback, and we need to replicate it. We need to find a solution for this in racing and then drip-feed it down to our road cars.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to be the same experience as what we have today, but we do need a solution. We don’t have them yet. This is why we have the prototype racing concept: it’s a commitment to finding these answers.”

Van Meel added that M division is under pressure to find answers to make electric cars compelling prior to 2030, when many European countries will phase out the sale of new ICE cars.

“We must have those answers by 2030," he said. "If everything is going electric by then, then there will be no GT3 or GT4 [racing] if we don’t; we will be left racing old-timers.

"We have to start our studies now, as it will take years to get there. If we want to race at Le Mans in 2030, then we need to find solutions.”

However, he played down using Formula 1 as a test bed for developing technology that would be relevant for future road cars, saying: “We're happy with what we're doing. F1 is thinking about electrification in 2026, which is quite late. Also, there's not much spin-off into road cars.

"On the [LMDh] prototype, there are a lot of lessons, from aerodynamics to cooling, as well as the V8 hybrid drivetrain being linked to the one we have in the XM.”

He also talked up the potential of electrification for making better-than-ever M cars: “The opportunities of electrification are enormous. There are so many more parameters we can control now to make the cars better; we just have to learn how.

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"Our engineers can do a lot more things to make our cars faster, better and more sustainable. It is not the end of a journey but the beginning of another exciting one for M.”

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