Electric cars are upon us. Regardless of how you feel about battery powered vehicles, they will, in time, overtake the fossil-fuel-fed machines that have been inextricably intertwined in our lives for over a century. The natural extension of electric cars becoming the norm is electric motorsport becoming the norm. The latest of which is the all-new Extreme E off-road series that kicks off in a few weeks.

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First of its kind

The Extreme E off-road championship is the brainchild of Alejandro Agag, who was also the brains behind the Formula E single-seater series. The latter has grown from strength to strength over several seasons. It has attracted mainstream motor manufacturers to the fold and now boasts world championship status. Click here to learn about Formula E coming to SA this year.

Agag’s aim with Extreme E is to highlight the need to act now to reverse the effects of climate change. Agag said: “More people watch sport than science documentaries, and with 24 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions coming from transport, Extreme E believes it can use its powerful media platform to shine a spotlight on the issues we face, and the need to act now to help protect our futures.”

Electric powertrains

This new series uses electrically powered all-wheel-drive buggies that will race in some of the world’s most extreme climates. Race teams will compete in identical off-roaders called the Odyssey 21. These battery powered machines develop 400 kW and 920 N.m of peak torque. Thanks to all-wheel-drive they can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 4,5 seconds and will top out at 200 km/h.

Diverse arenas

Five rounds have been confirmed for the inaugural season, each offering completely different terrain. The races will take place, in chronological order, in Saudi Arabia (desert) on April 3-4, Dakar, Senegal (ocean) where the original Dakar Rally used to finish, Greenland (Arctic), Brazil (Amazon Rainforest) and Argentina (Glacier).

To underline the series green credentials an ex-mail delivery ship, called the St Helena, has been repurposed to transport cargo and the racecars to each round. All race equipment needed for its series of worldwide events will travel by sea, allowing for a far less carbon-intensive equivalent to air travel. Even the series trophies are made from recycled plastic waste.

Star-studded line-up

The Extreme E off-road series will feature a star-studded driving line-up. Included among the pilots is ex-F1 champion Jenson Button who is also the owner of his team, Dakar winner and rally champion Carlos Sainz, former DTM star Mattias Ekstrom, FIA RX champion Johan Kristoffersson and multiple WRC title holder Sebastien Loeb among others.

Watch the Extreme E racers in pre-season testing in the video below: