Electric racing has expanded into another motorsports realm with the “Extreme E” series for electric SUVs, created by former IndyCar star Gil de Ferran and Formula E founder Alejandro Agag.
The series will run events “in five of the most unique and remote locations on the planet, with the aim of showcasing the performance of electric sport utility vehicles as they compete in extreme environments.” At the same time, the founders noted that their events will aim to highlight the challenges faced by each ecosystem.
“I’ve always been passionate about progressing electric vehicle technology and the impact that clean mobility solutions can have on the efforts to halt global climate change,” said Agag at the series launch on board its new floating operations base, the former Royal Mail Ship St. Helena (pictured above) beside Tower Bridge in London.
“I strongly believe that Extreme E can help make the world more sustainable faster, and we have a dream team to make this ambition a reality.”
Scheduled to begin in January 2021, series events will be conducted in the Arctic, the Himalayas, Sahara desert, the Amazon rainforest and islands in the Indian Ocean. It will be operated in association with Formula E and use a traditional round-robin format with two groups of six teams – with the top-four progressing to the knock-out stage and each driver going head-to-head to earn a place in the final. The off-road stages will be around 6-10km (4-6 miles) in length with a series of “virtual gates” to be navigated through by drivers, who will have to cope with environments ranging from extreme heat and humidity to high altitude and sub-zero temperatures.
“This is a hugely exciting project,” said Gil de Ferran, who serves as chairman of the new venture. “Extreme E offers a unique sport, adventure and entertainment concept that has never been seen or done before.
“Viewers can expect a completely new way of consuming sport, with each episode telling not just the story of a race, but the wider race of awareness and the need to protect these remote and challenging environments being explored by Extreme E.”
Just as Formula E has embraced alternative elements to that of traditional motorsport, Extreme E will be presented to the public in innovative fashion. Rather than utilize traditional TV broadcasters, Extreme E telecasts will take the form of a ‘docu-sport’ TV series, produced by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens.
“Electric racing has become a passion for me, having worked alongside Leonardo DiCaprio to create a new documentary film to be released later this year on Season 4 of Formula E,” said Stevens. “I think this revolutionary concept can both continue the fight against climate change and help set new standards in how not only motorsport, but all sports can be broadcast.
“My focus will be on assembling a brilliant team of storytellers both narratively and visually to create a documentary-format series, which 21st century viewers will find not only compelling but also inspiring. ‘Blue Planet’ meets Dakar.”
Continuing the innovation theme, with its ship-borne operations base series organizers reiterated their commitment to being carbon neutral, alongside implementing ongoing legacy initiatives at each destination to help restore and rebuild damaged ecosystems already impacted by climate change. Onboard the ship for today’s launch, British explorer and environmentalist David de Rothschild announced he will take the position of Chief Explorer of Extreme E and lead the mission to take electric racing to some of the world’s most remote locations.
“Harnessing the excitement and attention surrounding Extreme E, I’m looking forward to activating a global storytelling platform for nature that’s grounded in science, innovation, exploration and optimism,” said de Rothschild. “The race for curating and creating an operating manual of solutions and positive environmental actions on behalf of nature has just begun.”
Extreme E has secured the backing of Continental Tires as a founding partner and official tire supplier, along with Brazilian company CBMM as niobium supplier, which will feature in the chassis of the all-electric SUVs.