After 18 years, Audi will no longer race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

LeMans winning Audi race cars 2000 - 2014
For nearly two decades, Audi has dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Since 2000, there have only been four occasions when an Audi hasn’t taken first place at the legendary endurance race. But that streak is officially over.

Audi is pulling out of Le Mans. As part of a major rethink of its motor sport program, Audi will terminate its participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), which includes Le Mans, at the end of this season. Going forward, Audi plans to focus on Formula E, a race series for electric cars. Audi will continue racing in the German DTM series through 2017, and is still deciding whether to continue with the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

“As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motor sport cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to be even more so,” Audi boss Rupert Stadler told the 300 employees of the carmaker’s racing department on Wednesday. Audi plans to launch its e-tron electric SUV in 2018, and parent Volkswagen hopes to put one million electric cars on the road by 2025.

Read more: Mercedes clinches third straight F1 constructors’ title

Audi is already allied with the ABT Schaeffler Formula E team, and previously announced plans to increase its involvement beginning with the current season, which kicked off earlier this month in Hong Kong. It will provide financial and technical support to the team, and will display its branding more prominently on cars. This is a prelude to what Audi calls a “full factory commitment” to Formula E in coming seasons.

The decision to leave Le Mans isn’t entirely surprising given the current state of Audi’s endurance racing program. The carmaker lost to fellow VW Group brand Porsche in 2016 and 2015. In the wake of the Volkswagen diesel scandal, Audi’s diesel hybrid race cars are also less appealing from a marketing standpoint, and the extra weight of diesel engines puts them at a competitive disadvantage under the current rules. A very expensive redesign would likely be required to address these issues.

Still, there is no denying that Audi has one of the most impressive Le Mans records of any manufacturer. After 18 years of racing, its 13 victories put it behind only Porsche (which has 18). Audi was also the first manufacturer to win with a diesel engine (in 2006) and with a hybrid powertrain (in 2012). All good things must come to an end, though, leaving the question of which automaker will step up to fill Audi’s tire tracks.

Product Review

Bigger battery and folding top add appeal, but BMW’s i8 remains ultra-niche

Want a high-performance vehicle that's more than just a frightening driving experience? Desire the look and feel of a sports car with the road manners of a luxury commuter? The BMW i8 is for you.
Cars

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.
Cars

Maserati is prepared to fight for a piece of the electrified supercar segment

The Alfieri concept Maserati shown in 2014 is on track for production. It will offer three drivetrain options, including hybrid and electric variants, and it will take just two seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop in its quickest…
Cars

Serious, funny, and controversial: Every car commercial from Super Bowl 53

Advertising during the Super Bowl costs a small fortune; analysts peg the cost of a 30-second commercial at about $5 million. From funny to controversial, here are the car commercials that aired during Super Bowl LIII.
Cars

The hottest of all Mini hatches is coming with a Batman-approved design

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the Mini Cooper.
Cars

Report: Amazon and General Motors may invest in electric pickup company Rivian

General Motors and Amazon may invest between $1 billion to $2 billion for minority stakes in U.S. startup Rivian, an all-electric truck company, Reuters reports. Rivian introduced the R1T pickup at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto show.
Cars

Ford F-150 recall: Fault could cause vehicle to downshift into first gear

Ford is recalling 1.48 million F-150 vehicles over a potential fault that could cause it to suddenly downshift into first gear. The automaker said it's currently aware of five accidents related to the issue.
Cars

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…
Cars

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…
Cars

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…
Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Outdoors

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.