From the racetrack to the streets

9/12/17 / DTM / Insights

From the racetrack to the streets

In this interview, Prof. Peter Gutzmer, Deputy CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Schaffler AG, and Matthias Zink, ,CEO Automotive of Schaeffler AG, talk about the significance of Schaeffler's motorsports commitment for the mobility of the future.

As early as in the 1980s, DTM cars sporting stickers of Schaeffer’s LuK product brand competed in the DTM and since 2011 an Audi completely wrapped in Schaffler colors has been attracting attention. What’s the objective behind this commitment?

Peter Gutzmer: “Schaeffler has always been an innovation driver. About three decades ago, we extended our commitment from the factories to the race tracks in a manner of speaking in order to present our brands in the competitive motorsport environment. Not only in the DTM but also in other motorsport disciplines such as rally racing, logos of Schaffler’s LuK, FAG and INA brands have been emblazoned on many vehicles. Today, and this reflects the development of our company as well, we’re communicating our brand values in motorsport under the central theme of ‘One Schaffler.’”

In 2017, Schaffler brand ambassador Mike Rockenfeller is again competing in the DTM at the wheel of an Audi. The vehicle communicates a clear message.

Peter Gutzmer: “Exactly, and it does so even in its name: Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM. Besides the purposely selected conspicuous color scheme, the ‘Mobility for tomorrow’ inscriptions are unmistakable as a visual highlight. So the graphic layout of the vehicle carries the Group’s strategy of ‘Mobility for tomorrow’ into motorsport. Schaeffler is actively involved in designing future mobility with its innovative products and technology expertise. Appearances in motorsport – and I include those in Formula E and in the WEC – are the optimum communicators of our messages.”

The technologies used in race cars and production vehicles in many cases are not very far apart. How do these two areas benefit from each other?

Matthias Zink: “The complexity and speed of motorsport commitments sharpen the focus on essentials and challenge our engineers to deliver feasible solutions by deadlines that are locked in concrete. In addition, motorsport promotes team spirit. All of this is beneficial in Schaeffler’s day-to-day work as a globally active automotive and industrial supplier as well. The keyword is technology transfer, for instance in the field of hybridization, which is a very important topic on the road as well as in motorsport. That’s why we’re involved in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) where we’re able to demonstrate our expertise in this field together with our partner Porsche. This applies to Formula E, where the main focus is on the interaction between the electric motor and the transmission, in similar ways. Since the 2015/2016 season, Schaeffler, as the exclusive technology partner, has been developing the powertrain of the race cars together with Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport.”

The DTM has always been racing with classic IC engines. By contrast, electrification is the predominant topic in the automotive industry at the moment. Will IC engines have a chance in the future?

Peter Gutzmer: “Yes, absolutely. Our future lies in electric mobility but, at the same time, electric mobility is the future of the IC engine as well. As a lot of research has shown, we will not be able to achieve the established targets by 2050 by means of purely battery-based electrification. Looking at the total system, this will only be possible if we create CO2-neutral energy carriers based on renewable energies and those will be gaseous and liquid synthetic fuels as well as hydrogen, in other words energy carriers that are ideally suited for use in an IC engine system. The future of our personal mobility will be defined by a healthy mix of hybrids, effient IC engines and electric powertrains.'