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Some of the world’s most notable campaigners spectacularly battling each other in their high-tech race cars with output of some 500 hp on race tracks throughout Europe – this is the DTM. Since as far back as 1984 the internationally popular touring car series has been captivating fans with a mix of attractive motorsport and varied entertainment including high-caliber racing series held as part of the supporting program. Three German premium manufacturers – Audi, BMW and Mercedes – have been involved in the DTM for years.
As early as in the initial years of the DTM, Schaeffler supports drivers and teams with know-how in racing and technology. Stickers of the LuK product brand adorn suits and vehicles. In 2011, the technology group concentrates its commitment and gives its name to the Schaeffler Audi of Phoenix Racing, instantly followed by resounding success. Campaigner Martin Tomczyk takes a place in the top five in all ten races clinching three victories and a dominant title win one race before the end of the season. So, as champion in its DTM debut year, Schaeffler celebrates a major triumph. In 2012, Mike Rockenfeller becomes the new Schaeffler campaigner. Just a year later, on winning the drivers’ classification, he hits the bull’s eye as well. For Schaeffler, it marks the second title win in its third year as a vehicle sponsor. In the following years, Schaeffler, Audi Sport Team Phoenix and Mike Rockenfeller continue to form a congenial trio. Rocky has been one of the fastest Schaeffler ambassadors to this day.
The internal combustion engine that is traditionally used in DTM cars has not become obsolete yet. Quite the opposite is true. Particularly in the field of hybrid powertrain architectures, combustion technology continues to be a crucial driver of mobility for tomorrow. Engineers from Schaeffler are working on ways to extract the maximum output from the energy input. There is substantial room for improvement as currently only a fifth of the power in a fuel tank is put on the road. “We estimate the entire remaining efficiency enhancement potential at the current state of production engines to be at least 20 percent for gasoline and 10 percent for diesel engines,” reveals Schaeffler’s Chief Technology Officer Prof. Peter Gutzmer. Industry experts agree that this will not be achievable by a single solution. It takes a large number of individual ideas and improvements to reduce fuel consumption, both in the IC engine itself and in the entire powertrain.
Schaeffler delivers the necessary technologies and products to design vehicles for greater fuel economy and efficiency: Divisions & Products / Automotive
Having driven the Schaeffler Audi in the DTM since 2012, Mike Rockenfeller is the key figure the Group has been identified with in the DTM. Following his title win in 2013, Rocky was again battling for position 1 in 2017. Up until the last race at Hockenheim, he still had the chance of clinching his second title win in the Schaeffler Audi but then just barely missed it with a twelve-point deficit.
Mike Rockenfeller, though, is more than a “mere” race driver. As a Schaeffler brand ambassador he additionally embodies the company’s values in impressive ways. Visits to Schaeffler’s plants are by no means onerous obligations for him. Instead he enjoys them and encourages employees to explain their jobs to him. For the workers, familiarizing the 2013 DTM Champion with the enormous breath of Schaeffler’s product range in a direct dialog and experiencing him first-hand is both an honor and motivation.
Looking back on Schaeffler and Mike Rockenfeller’s 2017 DTM season:
This is Mike Rockenfeller:
Prof. Peter Gutzmer, Deputy CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Schaeffler AG, and Matthias Zink, CEO Automotive OEM of Schaeffler AG, discuss the DTM commitment of their company in an interview
As early as in the 1980s, DTM cars sporting stickers of Schaeffler’s LuK product brand competed in the DTM and since 2011 an Audi completely wrapped in Schaeffler 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 Schaeffler’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 Schaeffler.’”
In 2017, Schaeffler brand ambassador Mike Rockenfeller again competed 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.”
In 2016, some 1,000 Schaeffler employees with banners, baseball caps and T-shirts of your company practically transformed the grandstands during the DTM season’s highlight at the Norisring into a “green wall.” What kind of a feeling was that?
Matthias Zink: “A wonderful one. The Schaeffler Audi has been showing the integrative power and mojo of motorsport from day one. Our employees identify with our company via motorsport. And they do so around the globe. Posters and stickers of the Schaeffler racer are displayed in numerous production halls, our research and development sites and in offices. Whenever Mike Rockenfeller visits a Schaeffler location and our employees have the opportunity to shake his hand during personal tech talks it becomes clear that this is a perfect partnership.”
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 were involved in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) where we were 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, efficient IC engines and electric powertrains.”
Both in the DTM and in the Formula E electric racing series, Schaeffler and Audi have jointly celebrated major successes. By developing the entire powertrain for the race car of Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Schaeffler is involved in shaping mobility for tomorrow as well. The same is true off the race track, as the successful partnership between Schaeffler and Audi has been in existence for several generations.
As far back as in 1950, Schaeffler’s cage-guided needle bearing is installed in the DKW F89 made by Auto Union, a company that preceded today’s AUDI AG. It turns into a million-seller within a very short period of time. Across the following decades, Schaeffler and Audi intensify their collaboration. Since the mid-1960s, clutches by Schaeffler’s LuK brand are used at Audi as well. In the 1980s, the efficiency of the clutches is enhanced by stiffer designs, for the Audi 100, among others. In 1993, the self-adjusting clutch (SAC) goes into production, debuting in the Audi S4 Bi-Turbo. The continuously variable transmission, the thermal management module or the electromechanical roll stabilizer – listed on the following page are other important technology milestones achieved in the partnership between Schaeffler and Audi.
In 1949, Georg Schaeffler achieves a breakthrough invention, the cage-guided INA needle bearing. It offers reduced friction and torque stability which revolutionize the roller bearing market. In 1950, it is first used in the Auto Union DKW F89 dubbed as “Meisterklasse” (“Master Class”).
The diaphragm clutch introduced into automobiles by Schaeffler’s LuK brand in the mid-1960s displaces the preceding unit with helical springs from the passenger car market. As well as in other models, Audi uses the technology in its compact Audi 50, enabling the four rings to tap into new consumer groups.
Today’s Schaeffler ambassador Armin Schwarz, on winning the title in the 1986 Mitropa Rally Cup, achieves his breakthrough in international rally racing. In his Audi 80 quattro sporting conspicuous graphics of Schaeffler’s INA brand, numerous new valve train components are tested.
The overrunning alternator pulley debuts in the Audi A4. Today, it is installed in practically any efficient car, stabilizing rotational irregularities in the belt drive. The result: smoother running and enhanced NVH performance.
The continuously variable transmission is enabled thanks to a high-tech engineering design from Schaeffler. Featured in the legendary “bobblehead” TV commercial, the technology which Audi calls “Multitronic” acquires fame.
In many motorsport disciplines, such as in the DTM on Mike Rockenfeller’s Audi A4 DTM, logos of Schaeffler’s LuK, FAG and INA brands are emblazoned on the cars. Today, the company’s appearance at the race track is billed as OneSchaeffler.
Schaeffler’s thermal management module controls temperature management in the entire powertrain. This allows the ideal thermal condition of the engine and transmission to be achieved as soon as possible and fuel economy to be enhanced.
In the “Schaeffler System 48 V” concept vehicle based on an Audi TT, Schaeffler demonstrates the potential of 48-volt hybridization. An electric rear axle complements the IC engine and recuperates braking energy at the same time.
The electromechanical roll stabilizer from Schaeffler enhances safety, vehicle dynamics and ride comfort, for instance in the current Audi SQ7. In 2016, the pioneering component receives a “German Innovation Award.”
Twenty races at ten events in six European countries – the race calendar of the coming DTM season is again extensive and varied. For the first time, the touring car series is visiting Misano, Italy.
All 2018 DTM race weekends