Mint 400 organizers have responded to “a flood of requests by EV truck makers and owners” by adding a new class for electric vehicles. The EV Class will initially be open to all relevant manufacturers, makes and models, and will be overseen by Mint 400 Technical director Bill Savage. Separate dedicated EV classes based on chassis style and design are already being written for races beyond 2021.
“Off-road engineers and fabricators are responsible for designing, building and testing many of the technologies that exist in modern passenger cars, trucks and SUVs,” said Mint 400 Co-Owner and CEO, Matt Martelli. “We are the proving ground for new technologies, because we compete in brutal conditions at a pace that destroys anything that isn’t rock solid.
“The EV market for the past few decades has been built around featherweight design, but recent improvements in battery technology have changed that. We’re starting to see EV trucks emerge that, at least on paper, are light enough, strong enough, and have enough range to not only tackle casual off-road use, but in some areas potentially dominate their gasoline-fueled brothers. So we’re inviting any/all EV manufacturers to come prove the endurance and durability of their platforms at The Mint 400.”
The creation of the new Mint 400 EV Class will be the first in history for a traditional desert race in America, but not the first in the sport. The ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered vehicle became the only EV vehicle ever to complete the Dakar Rally in 2017. That in turn inspired Audi and the GCK e-Blast 1 to prepare EV vehicles to compete at Dakar, and the field is growing each year.
In February of 2021, racer Kyle Seggelinbuilt raced a garage-built Toyota 4Runner with a powertrain from a Nissan Leaf at the King of the Hammers, winning the EV class on a shortened version of the ‘Everyman Challenge’ race course. Meanwhile, Extreme E will launch in 2021 featuring an all-EV line-up contesting a global five-round championship.
“No electric vehicle has ever completed a full major off-road race in North America. let alone competed for the overall win, which at some point will no doubt be possible as battery range technology improves,” said Mint 400 COO Josh Martelli.
“Tesla and its Chinese rival NIO have been getting most of the press. But Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, Volvo, Volkswagen, Ford, Mini, Nissan, Kia, BMW, Chevy, and Hyundai all have EVs in production. And Jeep, Rivian, Lordstown Motors, Audi, Bollinger and Polaris already have off-road capable models.
“We’re opening the door to any OEM that wants to come compete on the roughest off-road race course in America to prove their tech. The engineers and designers in the off-road community have had a dramatic and lasting effect on the modern passenger car industry. Every truck and SUV in America has design elements created in the garages of our racers beginning in the late ’50s. So it’s only fitting that these new vehicles come compete on the ultimate proving ground on live television in front of tens of thousands of off-road enthusiasts.”