Extreme E is an entirely new concept in off-road racing, brought to you by the brains behind Formula E, that’s due to start in 2021.
What you see here is the machine that will race in the series. Called Odyssey 21, it’s based on the same sort of principles as Dakar rally raid cars.It’s big, ultra-tough and looks to have several feet of suspension travel. The electric powertrain develops around 550hp and it weighs 1,650kg. A 0-60mph time of around 4.5secs has been suggested.
The Odyssey has been designed and developed by Spark Racing Technologies – also responsible for the Formula E car – while batteries are supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering and tyres by Continental.
The hope is that, like Formula E, Extreme E will attract manufacturer teams. They’ll be allowed to develop their own electric motor and change some bits of the Odyssey’s bodywork to resemble their road cars.
According to Top Gear, which spoke to series creator Alejandro Agag, the purpose behind Extreme E is to raise awareness of the parlous state of the environment by racing in locations that have been destroyed by deforestation, pollution and climate change.
“A lot more people watch motorsport than environmental documentaries,” Agag said in Top Gear’s interview. “Motorsport can be used as a tool to spread a message. A very strong tool.”
To keep the series’ carbon footprint as low as possible, the cars will travel between the races by boat, not going back to their team’s home base until season’s end. Teams and drivers will obviously still have to fly, though.
There won’t be spectators at the events, either, the series relying on digital and TV coverage. That way the races don’t need massive infrastructure to accommodate spectators, so the venues can be much more compact. It also eliminates what is by far the biggest part of a race meeting’s carbon emissions – spectators’ travel to and from the circuit.
The Agag Extreme E will be able to attract big-name drivers, as well as manufacturers. It took Formula E a few years to get going but the likes of Jaguar, Audi and BMW now compete – and Porsche is joining next season.
We wouldn’t bet against Extreme E being a success.
By Graham King