It seems like there’s a lot of rumblings in motorsports lately about who’s returning to Le Mans, and now we can add the distinct blare of a BMW into the mix.
According to Autocar, the Bavarian automaker is considering a return to endurance racing, and they are allegedly looking into hydrogen power to set it apart from the rest.
Le Mans has always been a testbed for vehicle innovation, particularly when it comes to power. Diesel engine tech — particularly in the hands of Audi — has supplied many with staying power, and now hybrid systems rule the top LMP1 class. BMW might see hydrogen fuel cells as the key to its success.
It’s understood that the return to endurance racing will be the precursor to a hydrogen fuel-celled production car, slated to debut near 2020. If you’re asking yourself why, after all the effort put into the BMW i cars, a hydrogen car would join that lineup: Currently, the i-brand is made up of the i3 city car and the i8 hybrid sports car, and it only stands to reason that by 2020, the lineup would have expanded.
We know that a BMW already has a few hydrogen-powered prototypes kicking around in the guise of the 5 series, and that it has partnered with Toyota in developing a hydrogen system based on the one found int the Mirai.
In the meantime, BMW’s possible return to Le Mans raises many questions. For one, if it were to return, would it come back as official factory team, or would it feature a car in a noncompetitive category, similar to the Nissan DeltaWing? In which class would it look to compete?
Whatever the case, we hope the rumors turn out to be true. BMW has a storied history all across motorsport, and we’d be happy to see it throw down with the endurance elite once again.