BMW Using Bike Racing Series on Road to Clean ICE Future

Automaker says no reduction in power using fuel that is just 60% fossil-fuel based.

Paul Myles, European Editor

February 16, 2024

2 Min Read
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu BMWM-1000RR
BMW rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu reports no issues using new 'clean' race fuel.

Non-fossil fuel regulation changes to next weekend’s World Superbike opening race rounds will help automakers develop carbon-neutral fuels for internal-combustion engines.

The significance of this move is that it opens the door to continued sales of new vehicles with ICE technology beyond the European Union’s 2035 ban on all but zero-emission vehicles but excluding those burning carbon-neutral fuels.

Now BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s former world WSB champ, Toprak Razgatlıoğlu, lines up at the Phillip Island starting line in Australia using racing fuel in his BMW M-1000RR that cuts its CO2 emissions budget by 40% using the same amount of non-fossil fuel content, with no drop-off in performance.

RacE-Fuel WSBK R40-A fuel was developed in a partnership between the automaker and fuel specialist Nordoel and claims a huge cut in emissions within less than a year. The product becomes the first regenerative fuel based on MtG (Methanol-to-Gasoline). It raises the prospect for niche automotive areas, such as motorcycle and lightweight performance track vehicles, and can have a future within emissions regulations without users having to make the compromise over weight that battery-electric vehicles pose.

Christian Gonschor, technical director for BMW Motorrad Motorsport, says: “We have worked closely with Nordoel in the development of such a fuel already last year, and this winter, during the season preparation, we were able to use it successfully without any technical issues. All our bikes were on the track with this new fuel during the tests in Spain and Portugal, and we are convinced of this collaboration.”

BMW is not the only champion of maintaining a future for ICE technology; the British brand Bentley announces all its U.K. press and heritage fleet are being run on biofuel made from waste products. The automaker says its fuel cuts overall emissions by 85% and is a straightforward replacement for normal pump fuel. No engine modifications are necessary, even for the oldest surviving Bentley, the 1920 EXP2.

Meanwhile, the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers have formed a research group to investigate creating small hydrogen ICE powertrains. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has given approval for Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki to form a technological research association called Hydrogen Small Mobility & Engine Technology (HySE) for developing hydrogen-fed ICE powertrains for small vehicles.

The move hopes to help accelerate the hydrogen refueling infrastructure ahead of the future rollout of fuel-cell electric-vehicle technology while recognizing that motorcyclists eschew battery-powered bikes, as Harley-Davidson proved recently with the LiveWire which it had to spin off into a sub-brand after being shunned by its traditional customers.

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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