Although the new M3 Touring takes center stage at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the upcoming LMDh prototype is also present as a testament to things to come. Autocar I sat down and spoke with M President Frank van Mel about how the company’s motorsport expertise will shape the future of M cars in the electric age. BMW aims to add excitement to electric vehicles by instilling some of its motorsport expertise during the development phase.
One way to make zero-emissions cars more exciting is to replicate the noise made by the internal combustion engine. Not only that, but the goal is to simulate the special feeling you get when changing gears in a manual M car, whether it’s an M2 or M3/M4. However, it will take some time to come up with these features as Head of Department M admits that he still has to figure out solutions.
“In racing, you judge your speed by listening to the revs and knowing what gear you are using. You need that feedback, and we need to replicate it. We need to find a solution to this in the race and then drip it into our road cars.”
While the BMW M . promised Keep your inline six and eight engines alive until 2030Frank van Mel feels pressure from regulators regarding the inevitable ICE ban:
“If everything was going electric by then there would be no GT3 or GT4 [racing] If we don’t we’ll leave the old races. We have to start our studies now, because it will take years to get there. If we want to race at Le Mans in 2030, we need to find the solutions.”
Although a A return to Formula 1 has already been ruled out, the LMDh BMW M program will help accelerate the development of road vehicles that will keep pace with stricter emissions regulations. Lessons learned while engineering the V8 hybrid endurance car will also pay off in terms of improving the cooling and aerodynamics of road-legal M models.
Meanwhile, Frank van Mill sees the cup half-full in regards to ICE’s eventual demise: “It’s not the end of the journey but the beginning of another exciting journey for M.”
That journey will begin before the end of the year with the XM SUV featuring a V8 hybrid setup linked to the LMDH and very likely 2024 5 like that. Meanwhile, by late 2022, the next-generation M2 G87 will be the last non-hybrid M car.