New money and old money

Motor Sport News - - Engineering Supplement -

AVL is the world’s largest pri­vate, in­de­pen­dent de­vel­oper of pow­er­train sys­tems, with in­ter­ests that en­cap­su­late both tra­di­tional and al­ter­na­tive tech­nolo­gies in both au­to­mo­tive and racing sec­tors.

In the opin­ion of Michael Resl, direc­tor of mo­tor­sports, mar­ket­ing and lead devel­op­ment, the fu­ture di­rec­tion of elite racing is go­ing to be built around how se­ries bal­ance the in­ter­ests of tra­di­tional au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers with the need to at­tract new money.

“I think the chal­lenge for the fu­ture is go­ing to be at­tract­ing the big fish into your racing se­ries,” he says. “Who­ever builds the plat­form that’s at­trac­tive for the Tes­las, the Nex­tevs, the Googles and the Ap­ples, while at the same time look­ing af­ter the needs of the VWS, the Mercedes, the Porsches, will be the win­ner from an or­gan­i­sa­tional stand­point. But that’s tricky. A se­ries like F1 can’t af­ford to not cater for new en­trants, while some­thing like For­mula E can’t just kick around with its cur­rent elec­tric ve­hi­cles wait­ing to see how the mar­ket works out. It’s go­ing to be very in­ter­est­ing.

“The worst thing that could hap­pen is if F1 sticks to tra­di­tional F1, NASCAR sticks to tra­di­tional NASCAR, and For­mula E sticks to be­ing what it is now. I be­lieve the new en­trants that are po­ten­tially out there may look away from racing for their mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties if that’s the case. This is the dan­ger.”

Founded in the 1940s, AVL now em­ploys 9,000 peo­ple world­wide and has a rev­enue north of one bil­lion euros. It has al­ways been in­volved in mo­tor­sports, but since 2012 has had a spe­cific mo­tor­sports brand: AVL Racing. It works across all the elite motorsport se­ries, pro­vid­ing en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices, sim­u­la­tion, com­po­nent man­u­fac­tur­ing and test­ing as well as a range of on-track op­ti­mi­sa­tion ser­vices. Resl says the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion be­tween strands of motorsport is al­ready very clear.

“There are dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent busi­ness ap­proaches out there now. NASCAR: more or less tra­di­tional; F1: try­ing to com­bine the tech­nolo­gies; For­mula E… doesn’t give a sh*t about old tech­nol­ogy! And it is in­ter­est­ing see­ing how that af­fects the mar­ket. In Euro­pean struc­tures it’s com­mon to see motorsport ac­tiv­i­ties placed un­der R&D within or­gan­i­sa­tions – but Amer­i­can or­gan­i­sa­tions usu­ally put motorsport within mar­ket­ing. Th­ese are two very dif­fer­ent styles of struc­ture and two quite dif­fer­ent sets of mo­ti­va­tions for racing.”

Resl ar­gues that, far from be­ing a cause for con­cern, the growing di­ver­sity in the in­dus­try is a healthy thing for a com­pany like AVL.

“It’s in the na­ture of our busi­ness to be flex­i­ble, es­pe­cially in racing,” he says. “The wider the spec­trum, the bet­ter for us. It’s not the case that in­no­va­tion in EV means there isn’t in­no­va­tion in IC. We’re see­ing tremen­dous ideas, tremen­dous in­no­va­tion and great con­cepts all over the place. It seems ev­ery­body is work­ing flat out in all as­pects.”

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