With the 2010 Vancouver Olympics underway, many may have noticed a significant number of BMW advertisements. BMWNA, with the opening ceremony on Friday, began the North American version of the “Joy ” campaign. The “Story of Joy ” will be BMW ‘s global marketing campaign and for the time being the “Ultimate Driving Machine ” has been set aside for a more globally acceptable message. BMW will be utilizing a variety of mediums as part of this blitz from tv and print to a full day takeover of MSN.com. These ads will focus not only the cars, but the people that drive and ride in these cars as well as moments of Joy from these Olympic games.
While BMW ‘s full on marketing push may be seen out in the open in ads, there are other ways in which BMW is playing a large part in these winter Olympics. Most would not realize BMW has actively been involved behind the scenes if it was not for the announcers on NBC, specifically in bobsled and luge.
BMW has been working with the Bobsled and Luge Federation for Germany over the years to optimize aerodynamics and revolutionize construction. The four-man bobsled was put through its paces at the BMW Group wind tunnel to measure aerodynamic drag, lift and down force. The Luge team was also able to use the wind tunnel to optimise body positions, materials and equipment. A crucial element of testing is the accuracy with which data is measured, as well as the ability to test equipment at high speeds. The BMW wind tunnel is fully capable in all these areas and was a perfect fit. The BMW Group aerodynamics engineers have given the athletes a helping hand in their quest for Olympic gold with their suggestions and technology.
Cars and bobsleds are actually not that different. “The main difference is that our vehicles have wheels, whereas the bobsleds have runners. Otherwise the principles are the same, ” explains Hans Kerschbaum, Head of Aerodynamics at the BMW Group. Of course, the bobsleigh ‘s frontal area is much smaller – more akin to that of a motorcycle than a car; but the Cd figure, or drag coefficient, is higher than for many current car designs. For example, the latest BMW 3 Series has a Cd value of 0.26, compared with between 0.32 and 0.35 for a bobsled.
Aerodynamics are particularly critical for luge racers. Even more so than for bobsled racers, equipment set-up and body position are crucial. Norbert Loch, the Luge team ‘s chief coach and father of Gold-Medalist Felix, gives an insight into wind tunnel testing: “We evaluate the best foot position for each individual athlete; then they go away and train so as to reproduce this optimum position under competitive conditions. ” Measurements in the wind tunnel show up even the slightest variations. Weight sensors under the sled also record minute differences in lift or downforce, i.e. values measured in grams. And smoke plumes allow the experts to observe any turbulence – with a luge racer this is usually around the feet, in cars behind the wing mirrors, for example. In either case, what matters are position and angle.
Singles luge Gold Medalist Felix Loch and runner-up David Möller had placed themselves at the mercy of the wind forces throughout their training. The efficiency tricks they learned while in the tunnel combined with advanced fabrication concepts developed at BMW Group ‘s Heat Treatment Center played a key roll in Germany placing 1 and 2 in these races.
More Luge and Bobsledding is to come in these Olympics and it is nice to know that the medal contenders have sought advice from BMW on how to be more efficient and for fabrication techniques. BMW is an expert in these areas and its knowledge translates outside of just passenger vehicles (it is not like Germany has a shortage of high end automobile manufacturers, and amongst them BMW was chosen).