Electric Cars

Audi's new Formula E racer adopts e-tron name, good looks

Say hello to the first German automaker to dive into the all-electric racing series.

Audi

Late last year Audi announced its departure from the FIA World Endurance Championship in favor of the all-electric FIA Formula E racing series. Now, we're getting our first look at the car it will run under the Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler name.

The Audi e-tron FE04 is the automaker's first all-electric racecar. It had already worked with Team ABT Schaeffler in the past, but this marks the automaker's first foray into Formula E with its own works team. The team's two drivers will be Lucas di Grassi, last year's champion, and Daniel Abt. Allan McNish will oversee Audi's efforts as team principal.

You might assume Formula E cars would be silent, but tires and transmissions make a good deal of noise, too.

Audi

While most Formula E cars look similar, the e-tron FE04 sports a new livery that's a bit easier on the eyes than ABT Schaeffler's mish-mash of colors and styles. Teams are allowed to develop their own powertrains, and Audi did exactly that, opting to mate the car's electric motors to a single-speed transmissions -- other teams tend to use transmissions with multiple gears.

"Together with our technology partner Schaeffler, we have developed a completely new powertrain," says Dieter Gass, head of Audi Motorsport, in a statement. "You can immediately tell this by looking at the new carbon housing of the powertrain. The car also sounds different because we're pursuing new avenues in technology."

The public will get to see the e-tron FE04 in action starting in Hong Kong on Dec. 2, with the season continuing into 2018. If you happen to be in Austria this weekend or Valencia next week, though, you can catch an early on-track glimpse as Audi continues testing its latest workhorse.

FIA Formula E is unlike any other racing series, formula or otherwise. The cars are all electric, and in order to combat range issues, drivers must switch cars at some point during the race. They don't swap batteries, which would introduce a whole new host of complications -- it's easier to just hop out of one car and sidle right into another.