Electric Mini Formula E safety car makes its debut

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The BMW Group has been closely linked with the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship since the very first race around seven years ago. It has had its i8 cars used as safety vehicles but has now unveiled a new Mini Pacesetter electric safety car.

Making its debut at the Formula E Rome e-prix, the fully electric car, which is based on the Mini JCW, was designed by BMW Motorsport such that racing technology makes it perfectly suited to the special requirements of a FIA Formula E safety car.

Formula E Mini

BMW Motorsport did not convert an existing road vehicle into the FIA Formula E Safety Car. Instead, the engineers used the new MINI Cooper SE as a basis to design a totally new safety car.

“We approached the project both in terms of safety and handling as if we were building a racing car, and started with the body in white of the MINI Cooper SE,” described Rudolf Dittrich, head of vehicle development at BMW Motorsport. “The result is a car that sets standards in braking power, cornering performance and agility. And it is precisely these areas that are crucial on the narrow street circuits in Formula E.”

To meet the specific requirements of a safety car it yields 135 kW of power and 280 Nm of torque. This sees the Mini Electric Pacesetter sprint from 0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds.

The brakes are largely identical in construction to those of the Mini John Cooper Works GP. For the chassis, the basic concept was adopted from production; however, numerous components (for example, the spring damper system) were replaced with motorsport elements. A totally new feature is the Kevlar underride guard familiar from rallying, and which primarily protects the battery of the Mini Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW when driving roughly over kerbs. The size, profile and rubber compound of the tires have also been modified for use as a safety car.

Through the consistent use of carbon and CFRP in the construction of the specific bodywork modifications, some of which were even produced using 3D printing, the BMW Motorsport engineers were able to achieve a weight reduction of around 130 kg compared with the production model, and thus an unladen weight of around 1,230 kg. The safety car contains all the modules required by the FIA for passive safety.

“The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is the top electric racing series as well as an efficient way to promote urban sustainable mobility,” said FIA president Jean Todt. “The new Official Safety Car – the MINI Electric Pacesetter – is a case in point. As safety is one of the FIA’s top priorities, we’ve collaborated with BMW Group and Formula E to develop a car model to play this key role.

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