Rally Racing is Going Electric
Hello and welcome to another ChargeSmart blog! Today, we will be talking about another electric racing series but this time, it's an off-road one. You've seen and heard plenty about all the wonders of Formula E but there will now be an electric rally series from the same people so it will be something to look forward to! It's called 'Extreme E' and it will join the Opel e-Rally Cup and Projekt E which is a European electric rallycross series commissioned by the FIA, due to start next year. For now, let's take a look at Extreme E.
At the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier this year, something unusual was unveiled. It was called the Odyssey 21 and it will be the electric SUV used in Extreme E races when the series kicks off in 2021. The Odyssey 21 doesn't look at all like an average SUV but instead bears a similar resemblance to the off-roaders used in the infamous Dakar rally. The prototype was built by Spark technologies, the same people who made Formula E's single seater racecars and the same people who currently supply the batteries for Formula E. The format of Extreme E will be similar to that of Formula E because the organizers are the same. Components are also standardized to keep the competition fair and to lower costs.
The Odyssey 21
Let's take a look at the car that will take center stage in this series! The Odyssey 21 electric SUV/racecar has 550 bhp on tap and will do 0-100 in 4.5 seconds. That's about the same as a Jaguar I-Pace and slower than some models of the Tesla Model X. However, those road cars won't be able to keep up with the Odyssey 21 when it comes to off-road ability. Formula E have said that the Odyssey can handle gradients of 130% and the car has special Continental tires which are designed to handle the toughest terrain that the world has to offer. Carrying over the theme from Formula E, teams won't be able to change the batteries or the basic chassis of the vehicle. Instead, they will be able to develop their own powertrains and play around with some parts of the bodywork. Jaguar already have an electric SUV in the I-Pace and so do Mercedes with the EQC and Audi with the E-Tron. All of whom will be tempted to join the Extreme E series and if their racecar resembles their road going vehicles then that could boost their sales of the road going variants. ABT Sportsline and HWA Racelab have already been confirmed for season 1 of Extreme E.
Created by the same people who gave us Formula E means that the organizers really know how to handle an international racing series. So far, the series will feature races in the Arctic, Himalayas, Amazon Rainforest, Sahara Desert and a remote island in the Indian Ocean. That sure sounds exciting and very exotic. The locations have been picked specifically because they are regions that are already suffering from the effects of climate change. The locations are meant to serve as warning signs for the rest of the world and the climate change deniers, if there are any still out there. Admittedly, questions have been raised over the sustainability of Extreme E because the idea of electric SUVs racing around fragile ecosystems along with media crews trampling everything in their path isn't exactly appealing to conservationists.
However, Extreme E have very cleverly addressed that. The Arctic race for example will showcase the melting of icecaps and some proceeds from the race will go towards funding conservation research. The rainforest leg will be held in the Amazon and will feature a race around land that has already suffered from deforestation. The idea behind this is to showcase the detrimental effects of deforestation on the wildlife around the forest. The organizers of the race are already working with local conservation authorities and once the races start, there will be even more funding going towards protecting the legacy of the natural wonders.
We can't wait for this electric racing series, with scenic destinations and a disused aircraft carrier serving as a mobile home base for the crews. It almost seems like something out of an old HotWheels movie! All in all, Formula E is keen to bring the SUV trend to electric racing and even more keen to maintain their status as the 'go-to' name in electric racing no matter what the format.