Human athlete versus electric motor.

The BMW i3s is the athlete amongst purely electric vehicles, so it is only logical that it can beat any human athlete on the racetrack as well, isn’t it? In Spain, probably today’s most eco-friendly forms of mobility competed against each other: The human being and an electric automobile.

Carlos Espinosa knows all about test driving. He is an editor with “Marca Motor”, a leading Spanish motorsport journal. And he has driven probably almost everything currently available on the market. However, this time he was really forced to think twice, because how does a vehicle drive on an athletics track? How do you take the tight bends on a stadium track? But above all – what if the driver of a sporty and agile vehicle like the BMW i3s should prove to be slower than a team of sprinters? So it was not just the heat at the sports facility “Miniestadio Cerro del Espino” in Majadahonda located northwest of Madrid that made Carlos Espinosa break out in a sweat. It was the impending comparison between the human athlete and the automobile.

On the football field where Atlético Madrid’s reserve team players normally train, the two rivalling teams now face each other on the running track – the team of sprinters, winners of the 2017 Spanish 4x 100-metre relay championships, and a  “team” of four BMW i3s electric cars – including trained test drivers like Carlos Espinosa.

The Spanish BMW Group subsidiary had challenged world-class runners Sara Martínez, Blanca Hervás, Andrea Trapero and Scarlett Arredondo and encouraged them to compete against four BMW i3s cars in the sprint. The unusual contest was designed to show that in spite of the competitors’ heterogeneity, commonalities also existed: “Low emissions, quiet, agile and fast – attributes that apply both to the sportswomen and our electric vehicles alike,” emphasises Pilar Garcia de la Puebla, head of communications at the BMW Group Spain.

The athletes follow the rules of a perfectly normal relay race. After 100 metres, the baton is passed on from one person to the other while running freely. However, the rules have been adjusted for the four BMW i3s: The baton change is replaced by stopping directly beside the next vehicle. On the one hand, this appears at first glance to be a disadvantage.  On the other hand, however, a BMW i3s accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.9 seconds. And in bends, the driver is assisted by Dynamic Traction Control, a feature that guarantees exceptionally smooth cornering behaviour. 

Notwithstanding these characteristics, rapid braking was an additional challenge for the drivers. “I had no information on the non-skid properties of the tyres on a running track,” Carlos Espinosa recalls. For this reason it had been hard at first to estimate how the BMW i3s would react when braking.

However, as exciting as the sporting test drive was, at the end of the 4x100 metres, the BMW i3s drivers had to accept defeat. The athletes were able to clinch victory by just a few fractions of a second. But the drivers weren’t really that disappointed. There were no losers anyway in such an unusual competition involving sustainable “movers”. Spokesperson de la Puebla also takes it in good sporting spirit: “Passion is decisive – both for sports as well as for the development of sustainable vehicles. We wanted to reinforce the BMW values based on “JOY” and “Passion” because passion moves the world and to show the importance of this true, everyone will leave here as winners.”

A short video (in the Spanish language) can be seen here