See The Differences: BMW i3 Drivetrain Compared To BMW iFE.18

JAN 2 2019 BY MARK KANE 24

Racing reveals huge potential for EV drivetrain upgrades

The 125 kW (or 135 kW) electric motor in the BMW i3 (i3s) is quite brisk, but it is no match for the racing BMW Racing eDrive01 drivetrain for the Formula E.

According to BMW, the new iFE.18’s drivetrain brings together the pioneering spirit, innovation and technological expertise of both BMW Motorsport and BMW i. Compared to the i3, eDrive01 is twice as light, takes only one-third of its footprint but offers twice the performance.

Performance is strong, as António Félix da Costa won the first race of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

Félix da Costa wins for BMW i Andretti Motorsport at Formula E season opener

Data for the Racing eDrive01, compared to the drive in the BMW i3

  • Weight of drive: down 50%
  • Performance of drive: up 100%
  • Size of drive: down 66%
  • Energy density of drive: up 300%
  • Torque density of drive: up 100%
  • Maximum engine speed of drive: up 100%

Here is an overview of the technical details behind the Racing eDrive01

Development of the Racing eDrive01 and technology transfer.

Work on developing the BMW drivetrain for Formula E began in early 2017. The Racing eDrive01 began with pre-development for production drive systems and was produced in the same prototype construction facilities as the next generation of BMW i series drives. As such, it benefits from the experience of the production engineers in the areas of manual and mechanical manufacturing of electric motors and their components. More than a quarter of the pre-development team is also working on the Formula E project. The first concepts for the Racing eDrive01 were on the test stand for the first time in mid-2017 – the same test stand that is used for pre-production. After the delivery of the test chassis and standard battery, work started on assembling the test car at the start of 2018. By the time it came to the roll-out of the BMW iFE.18 in April 2018, the drivetrain had undergone many rounds of development and optimisation during extensive bench tests.

While the Racing eDrive01 benefitted greatly from the experience of production engineers during its development, the knowledge gained by BMW i Motorsport engineers in the tough competitive environment of Formula E flowed straight back into the development of future E-drives for BMW production vehicles. Motor racing makes it possible to test new materials, technologies and methods in extreme conditions and without having to take into consideration restrictive factors. This way, the technology transfer between motorsport and production development comes full circle. This technology transfer is more intensive in the Formula E project than ever before in the history of the BMW Group.

In particular, the fact that the BMW Group developed the fifth generation of their electric drive themselves again, thereby creating an excellent infrastructure for production and development, provides great advantages for the Formula E project. This development factory makes it possible to provide technological solutions tailored specifically to motorsport within a very short period. In the particular case of Formula E, for example, dozens of development variants were generated mathematically and via simulation almost overnight, from which the engineers could accurately select the solution perfect for the project.

Drivetrain components: Electric motor, cooling system and inverter.

The Racing eDrive01 drivetrain

The Racing eDrive01 consists of the electric motor, cooling system and inverter. The goals when designing all these components were maximum efficiency, the highest possible energy density, and a lightweight design that is as compact as possible. These goals were primarily achieved by using state-of-the-art materials, technologies and processes.

The electric motor is primarily made up of three parts: The rotor, the stator and the casing. In order to reduce weight and for strengthening, among other things, the rotor has supports made of fibre composites. In addition, innovative materials such as highly thermally-conductive resins, titanium and ceramic are used. The combination of all the state-of-the-art technologies used results in a high gravimetric energy density.

The electric motor is cooled by a virtually 360° cooling geometry in aluminium casing manufactured via the additive manufacturing procedure. In addition, materials with high thermal conductivity – such as ceramic and resin – are used. Thanks to CFD optimization, the pressure loss is minimal and maximum efficiency is guaranteed.

The inverter converts direct current from the standard battery into alternating current, which powers the electric motor. Parts of its casing are also made from fibre composites. Multiple MOSFETS (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors) with state-of-the-art silicon carbide technology are used on the inside for the semiconductor. Thanks to this technology, the inverter achieves very high dielectric strength while having a reduced size and minimal energy losses, and is thus smaller and lighter. An effective cooling system and low-loss circuit layout help make the inverter as efficient as possible.

Félix da Costa wins for BMW i Andretti Motorsport at Formula E season opener

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24 Comments on "See The Differences: BMW i3 Drivetrain Compared To BMW iFE.18"

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So the new racing motor is better in every way compared to the current motor in the i3. What are they waiting for? Switch them out already.

Many of these new changes will first show up in the iX3 and then the iNext. It would require a major redesign of the i3 to change the motor out. You’ll basically be redesigning all the mounts on the chassis. It’s not just a swap out.

It is too late for the i3 but it may be good for the Mini electric. I hope the Zoe 2, Peugeot 208e, DS3 ei Opel Corsa e will benefit this year from Renault-Nissan and DS competing in the formula e championship.

Mini e is also 4th gen powertrain. As I said, the first 5th gen powertrain will be in the iX3 next year.

> You’ll basically be redesigning all the mounts on the chassis.

Throw in a few brackets. Done!

Hey, if you’re ok with a 125kW motor spinning at 11000+ RPM coming unhinged when your kids are sitting in the back seat right over it, go ahead and do the mods yourself. I’m glad that BMW has been far more conservative in their engineering approach.

Toyota has had 11000 rpm motors since 1997 on the Prius, and no-one has ever questioned it.
It’s fun (and kind of sad) to see how such small achievements today, compared to same or even bigger achievements done 20 years ago now seem to get all the glamor.
Definitely the japanese manufacturers know nothing about marketing.

They have a road-map and goals. They are committing more money to ICE and the M range.

They would be making a huge mistake if they do not make their EV’s better than the M line, because Tesla will.

Actually, Tesla already has and will continue to do so.

Would probably be crazy expensive. If they kept 75% of the good features of the unit, the price would be way cheaper.

To watch performance or weight, in a graph, with regards to price is interesting.
Usually it looks fairly related, until one reach high performance or very low weight. From there on, price skyrockets. You end up paying a LOT more for just tiny tiny improvements.

In the end, customers will benefit, as production technology improves, get cheaper and makes it possible to offer near racing specs for a fairly normal price.

> Would probably be crazy expensive.

That’s my guess, as to the major differences in power output.

what is the expected life of the Formula motor? Can it do 300,000 miles?

If driven like a normal street car it will probably last even longer. I read one that if yu reduced the redline of an F1 engine from 20K rpm to 16K or so it will be as reliable as a large diesel truck engine. On the street you will never really produce the sustained power output you do in racing, thus temperatures and RPMs will mostly be much, much lower.

At this rate, they could surpass Tesla easily.

LMFAO at the serial anti-Tesla Umangi’s anti-Tesla fantasies!

Go back to the Evannex article, troll.

Says one!

This is a trace drivetrain. Probably not ready for a road car without modifications.
F1 engines are 1.6 liters with insane power, efficiency, weight… and noise and terrible life.

You can’t compare an fuel based engine with an electric motor. There are day and night differences, that the stresses of a fuel based engine, don’t automatically transfer over to an electric motor. Fuel based motors have to meet emissions and mpg standards, which don’t exist for an EV motor.

Let’s see how close… or far they’ll keep being.
The difference will be smaller with EVs but still 2 worlds apart.

A lot closer than you think. Formula E motors are powerful, reliable, AND efficient at racing speeds. Formula one engines are noisy, not as reliable or efficient…and most of all can’t have the streetable torque of an EV motor.

And unlike Formula one, there is no special racing fuel required, lol.

The relative cost of the motors is not mentioned … an obvious omission. As for this motor, I’m not even curious until something like it shows up in a carbon-fiber body on an aluminum frame with a big battery pack.

I already own a 2014 BMW i3-REx. New, it was $52,000 with a 72 mi EV range and 78 mi gas but I bought it in 2016, end-of-lease for $29,000. Replacement cost today is $21-23,000 for 2015-16. As for the newer BMW i3-REx models, they are priced in the Tesla range.

Tesla prices continue to decline and performance improve. For example, the new, 249 mile, Tesla $46,000 mid-range model today is now $44,000. With NEMA 14-50 charging augmenting the gaps, I would not need a range extender.