Audi quits Le Mans to focus on electric-car racing
Audi will quit participation in the Le Mans sports car race and the related world endurance championship next year after almost two decades and shift resources to electric-car racing, it said. Volkswagen-owned Audi, grappling with costs of its emissions scandal, is cutting spending to fund a strategic shift to electric cars and autonomous driving, mirroring plans by parent VW.
“We will conduct the race for the future electronically,” Chief Executive Rupert Stadler told workers on Wednesday at Audi’s sports-car division, according to a statement from Audi citing the biggest transformation in the brand’s history. Audi denied a report by Handelsblatt saying savings from pulling out of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship would amount to an annual 300 million euros ($328 million). A source at Audi said the move would save Audi nearly 100 million euros per year.
Audi has won the 24-hour Le Mans race, one of the greatest tests of endurance for cars and drivers, 13 times in 18 years, a spokesman said. Seeking to boost the share of zero-emission vehicles to at least a quarter of its global sales by 2025, Audi said it will next year start competing in the Formula E electric-car racing championship. The Ingolstadt-based manufacturer said its cars would stay in Germany’s DTM competition and it was looking at the possibility of expanding its engagement in the so-called RX World Rallycross championship where electrification will also play a role. — Reuters