BMW, QUALCOMM and the New Formula E Safety Car

Is the BMW i8 the best hybrid ever?
Is the BMW i8 the best hybrid ever?

Car giant BMW has teamed up with QUALCOMM to provide a high tech spec BMW i8 which will be used as the Formula E safety car next season. At a time when Formula E is hitting the headlines for all of the right reasons. it seems that many of the giants of the industry want a piece of the action. To the majority of people these vehicles look futuristic and untouchable but both BMW and QUALCOMM have different ideas.


The hybrid BMW i8 has already made a name for itself in the electric vehicle hybrid market but this Formula E safety car is something different. It has a pure electric power journey capacity of 23 miles with an overall capacity of 373 miles using the hybrid technology. The top speed for the vehicle is 155 mph and a credible 75 mph using electric only power. It can hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds perfectly, highlighting the fact this is not just an extremely good-looking vehicle. So, where does QUALCOMM come into the equation?

Wireless technology

The QUALCOMM HALO system is a wireless technology recharging system which is extremely powerful and offers a consistent charge. While last year's Formula E safety car had a basic wireless recharging system the new vehicle for next season has a bespoke design. This year's recharging system can charge at 7.2 kW and fully charge the batteries of a BMW i8 in less than one hour. In simple terms this system is the first to offer 7.2 kW wireless charging!

All the vehicle needs to do is park over the recharging pad with an app letting the driver know how close they are to the charging facility and the amount of power being discharged. Even though many people see Formula One and Formula E as creating futuristic driving technology services which will never reach the mass market, this is not the case!

Formula E is a perfect test base

If you ask any of the Formula E teams they will confirm that this particular arena is perfect for testing new and innovative ideas. While they may initially be extremely expensive and unworkable for the mass-market, things do change very quickly. Once a technology has been perfected it is then the job of the companies themselves to scale up production, increase efficiency savings, and ultimately arrive at a system which can play a role in the mass-market. This is exactly what happens in Formula One with systems such as KERS now being commonplace in the sport using kinetic energy from braking to effectively recover and recycle what would have been lost power.


While we fully expected the likes of BMW to follow Tesla and other innovative automobile companies into the electric car market, it is the introduction of companies such as QUALCOMM which could be the main game changer. Bringing together new technology, greater efficiencies, and massive research and development, budgets can only help the electronic car industry going forward. We await the future with renewed anticipation!