If you're going to launch a low-emissions motor sport like Formula E, you'll want to extend its ethos into off-track aspects of the series too. There's little use preaching about clean electric racers if the safety car is a V-8-engined gas-guzzler, which is why the electric single-seater series has unveiled the 2015 BMW i8 as its official safety car.
BMW's plug-in hybrid course car was revealed in a ceremony at the Donington Park circuit in the U.K., ex-Grand Prix venue and home of Formula E. The i8 should be more than up to the task of leading racers around the circuit, its 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine and two-motor electric drive system producing a combined 357 horsepower. The 0-60 mph time is estimated at just over four seconds, while an EPA-rated 15-mile electric range means it won't need to sit with the engine idling before it's called out onto the track. Top speed on electric power alone is 75 mph.
Cleverly, Formula E and BMW have turned to another new electric technology to ensure the car's battery remains topped-up at all times--wireless charging. Qualcomm Halo wireless charging means the car can be parked over a resonant magnetic induction pad on the ground--no cables required. Officially known as the Qualcomm Safety Car, the i8 will be driven by Bruno Correia. Two BMW i3 electric cars are also under evaluation by the series organizers for other track-related roles.