This Electric SUV Off-Road Race Series Starts In 2021

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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Gargantuan all-electric SUVs aren’t just the pipe dreams of a couple startups, like Rivian and Tesla. They are here to stay. Thankfully, there’s now a racing series that promotes their development.

  • Extreme E, brother racing series to Formula E, will pit 12 e-SUVs against one another across all-terrain race tracks.
  • The uniform vehicle platform is called Odyssey. It’s 7.5 feet wide and weighs 3,600 pounds with a 400 kiloWatt battery on board.
  • Racing teams will be able to lightly modify the body to mimic production SUVs as well as develop their own powertrains.
  • Teams receive their Odyssey 21s in 2020. Racing starts in early 2021.

Battery electric vehicles (BEV) are the wave of the future. Despite that, they’ve been surprisingly absent in world racing series. That is, except in the Formula E series. Although Formula E works to quickly grow and strengthen the development of BEV technologies, the cars themselves weren’t exactly representative of the modern car market. After all, drivers are flocking to SUVs and crossovers, not low-slung sports coupes.

So, why isn’t there a racing series that pushes the boundaries of pure-electric 4x4s? Well, now there is. It’s called Extreme E and the flag drops in early 2021.

Created by the same minds that formed Formula E, Extreme E aims to, as it puts it, “highlight the impact of climate change on some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, and promote the adoption of electric vehicles to help preserve the environment and protect the planet.” And what better way to underscore the impact climate change is having on fragile ecosystems than by driving humongous 4×4 over them?

Racing teams will use the electricity provided by Williams’ 550-horsepower battery pack. | Photo: Extreme E

 

I am only half serious with my snark there. I do agree that the best way to promote BEV SUVs is to send them racing. I just don’t know tearing up terra firma with them is the most eco-minded way to do it.

Much like Formula E, which has preset vehicle parameters in order to level the playing field, Extreme E racing teams will start with a single vehicle platform called Odyssey 21 developed and built by Spark Racing Technologies. This seven-and-a-half-foot wide, 3,600-pound BEV 4×4 rides on 37-inch wheels. Despite its stature, thanks to the 400 kilowatts (550 horsepower) on board battery pack developed by Williams Advanced Engineering, Odyssey can do 0 to 62 miles per hour in 4.5 second.

Although teams will have a set platform they must race with, they will be able to make their own visual tweaks. Teams can change the lights, hoods, and side skirting to mimic the resemblance of production SUVs on sale today. After all, carmakers will want to promote the SUVs in their showrooms and not just their driver’s prowess. Brands will also be able to develop their own powertrain for the trucks, too, so long as they stick with the Williams batteries.

Odyssey 21 can do 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds — up a 130-degree grade. | Photo: Extreme E

 

There will be twelve Odyssey 21s in the first season. They will be delivered in 2020 with initial testing mid-year. However, the first race will take place sometime in early 2021.

Where will Extreme E be racing the Odyssey 21s? Organizers haven’t yet said exactly. However, Alejandro Agag, Founder of Extreme E and CEO of Formula E said: “Whether it’s in the Arctic, Himalayas, Amazon, Desert or on Indian Ocean Islands, this car will showcase the ability of E-SUVs, not only to motorsport enthusiasts, but also to consumers who are looking to make their own difference to the planet by choosing an electric SUV.”


About the Author

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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