Formula E Founder Started Another Polarizing Race Adventure, Now With Electric SUVs

On the River Thames, in the heart of London, and on the deck of a 105-meter ship known as St. Helena, Alejandro Agag, Formula E Founder and CEO, announced a new electric SUV race series called the Extreme E. This is a whole new motorsport project that will take electric race cars to the most remote places on Earth. Continental Tires, the Founding Partner of Extreme E, provides full support to the project and it will, naturally, supply tires for the electric race SUVs. The outline of the Extreme E race event includes up to 12 teams, with super powerful electric off-roaders that will travel the world on a former Royal Mail ship and race at the most lonesome and secluded destinations.

It is an epic global mission that will showcase electric SUVs and their off-road proves in racing format, and, even more importantly, raise awareness of climate change with equal gist. The transport ship St. Helena will be home to electric SUVs that are at the very frontier of what the automotive world can achieve. Apart from cars and tech, St. Helena’s quarters will host teams, engineers, and crew involved with the Extreme E project. This ship will basically transport racing enthusiasts and their beloved SUVs to the most awesome racing venues where they’ll have a ton of fun. Let that sink in a bit. No pun intended.

For that fact alone, I can only say that this is, ladies and gentlemen, “the biggest adventure of our time.” Those are the same exact words that Agag proudly chanted during the Extreme E introduction.

All of this is so overwhelming that I am left speechless. And, as if this weren’t enough, the experience will be available via digital streaming service. I mean. Perfect! This is #cargasm in making.

What Is The Extreme E Race Series?

Extreme E is a new electric SUV race series organized by the founder of Formula E. The competition format includes a contest between up to 12 one-car teams in one-on-one form over several stages with an approximate total length of 4 to 6 miles. This is not a rally inspired competition, mind you. The racecar drivers compete head-to-head with a round-robin stage at first. The competition then evolves into a knockout tournament that eventually decides the winner.

From the outset, the drivers will be separated into two groups with six teams each. The four fastest from each group will proceed to the knockout phase. E

xtreme E organizers expect major manufacturers to join the expedition - especially those that produce electric SUVs.

That’s basically every one of importance. This obviously bears resemblance to the Formula E competition.

Where Does The Extreme E Race Take Place?

Everything You Need to Know About Extreme E - The Most Amazing Racing Expedition The World Has Ever Seen
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The retrofitted St. Helena ship will transport SUVs, teams, personnel, and everyone involved in racing to destinations all over the world. In an effort to raise awareness of climate change, Extreme E organizers chose five stunning locations where the races will take place:

  • the Arctic
  • the Himalayas
  • the Sahara desert
  • the Amazon rainforest
  • and islands in the Indian Ocean
The off-road stages will be around 6-10km (4-6 miles) in length. Each stage will offer a set of challenging “virtual gates” that will represent only a small part of all the challenges set before the cars and drivers.

The biggest obstacle, I feel, will be the elements. Electric Extreme E SUVs will drive in harsh conditions - from extreme heat and humidity to sub-zero temperatures and high-altitudes. This is the most extreme set of challenges any electric SUV will ever face.

Racing venues will be set on courses that have already been damaged by climate change. This means that the Extreme E race won’t damage any of the areas it plans to protect. What’s more, some of the locations have already been chosen. “This is a hugely exciting project,” said Gil de Ferran, who serves as Chairman of Extreme E. “Extreme E offers a unique sport, adventure, and entertainment concept that has never been seen or done before.

What Are Electric Extreme E Race SUVs Like?

Everything You Need to Know About Extreme E - The Most Amazing Racing Expedition The World Has Ever Seen
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As expected, this race format will follow a few basic ground rules. First off, all Extreme E electric SUVs will be unified. The parts they will share will include:

  • A basis chassis
  • A battery (specifically developed McLaren battery for the Extreme E series)
  • Suspension components
  • An ECU
  • Operating software
  • The electric motors

However, as is the case with Formula E, the race teams will be able to customize some features of the drivetrain.

Plus, teams and major manufacturers will be able to integrate any body on top of that chassis. After all, I would not be surprised to see Audi or Jaguar participate in this project. My imaginary racing Extreme E Audi SUV would be a bit like the E-Tron SUV, while the hypothetical Jaguar would look a lot like the I-Pace. I find that only logical. And, while at that, wouldn’t it be awesome to have Tesla compete in the Extreme E race series as well!? I mean, Elon, please do it! Put the Model X on the spotlight.

The technology provided for the racing series is developed by Formula E engineering teams.

Yet, the cars will be manufactured by Spark Racing Technology and, most importantly, will have two Formula E electric motors under their, presumably, carbon bodies. That will equal to 540 horsepower of pure raw electric strength and who knows how much torque.

At the presentation, I learned that the rule “manufacturer-client” will apply. It means that the car manufacturers and the teams that are involved with the racing will be able to develop and integrate their own drivetrain (electric motors, transmission, all-wheel-drive setup). Plus, they will be allowed to sell their drivetrain to other teams. As the first car is already in the development phase, I expect to see the first renderings, or even tests as early as April 2019.

Extreme E Plans and Timeline

April 2019

First prototype test

July 2019

Series car production

November 2019

Delivery of cars and batteries to the teams

December 2019-July 2020

Collective testing

August 2020

Race simulations (location to be defined)

September 2020

Cars shipped to the first race location

December 2020

First Extreme E Race

When Can I Expect The First Extreme E Race?

Everything You Need to Know About Extreme E - The Most Amazing Racing Expedition The World Has Ever Seen
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As the Extreme E is a fully-funded project, I am sure that the racing series will kick off with a big bang in December 2020.

The timeline is clearly set, but before the first race, we will see a whole lot of changes and adaptations. At the presentation, Extreme E Founder Agag, in response to one of the journalists’ questions, said that the interest from major manufacturers is really good. With that said, I am sure that Extreme E will experience some changes with different entrants that line up to have a go at it. Nevertheless, the future of Extreme E is a certain one. Mainly thanks to Continental Tires who approached the Extreme E organizers at the very start and offered its unequivocal support. As I’ve noted before, Continental is in a sort of a revolution and is working on its public outreach. You can’t do much better than offer support to an environmentally conscious race series when it comes to the public.

How Can I Watch Extreme E Racing?

Everything You Need to Know About Extreme E - The Most Amazing Racing Expedition The World Has Ever Seen
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Extreme E organizers made a decision - no live stream. While I am somewhat skeptical about a race series without a live stream, the proposed alternative seems like a sound one.

Hear me out - you will be able to watch Extreme E racing on a digital streaming service. Think Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

True, Extreme E has yet to announce its digital partner, but whoever it chooses, I’ll still find this concept quite refreshing.

Each race will be filmed in a “docu-sport” style with a part that raises awareness of climate change and a part that shows the race itself. I believe it will have a reality show quality to it. With a twist of course, and it most certainly won’t be a cliche.

The seriousness of the whole venture is additionally supported by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens who will be XE’s Artistic Director. He and his team will produce the broadcasts. It must be epic then, right?

"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,” Stevens said.

Gil De Ferran, a Brazilian race driver, and Extreme E Chairman had a word or two to say about the TV series project as well.

“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 need to protect these remote environments,” he added.

Who Will Race Electric Extreme E Racing SUVs?

Everything You Need to Know About Extreme E - The Most Amazing Racing Expedition The World Has Ever Seen
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Obviously, De Ferran is in search of some big names for the project.

While no names have officially been announced, De Ferran actually confirmed that he was in contact with none other than Fernando Alonso.

“I was texting him (Alonso) about it this morning. Fernando would certainly add a lot. He’s very famous, he’s fun, he’s a great driver, and it would be great to have someone of his notoriety and character in our event.”

Agag added, “This appeals to those that love challenges, have a sense of adventure and an environmental conscience. It would be great to have Lewis Hamilton participate, race and be part of this adventure too. Drivers like that would add a lot.”

Obviously, some big names here.

Extreme E SUVs Will Be Maintained On A Former Royal Mail Ship St. Helena

Everything You Need to Know About Extreme E - The Most Amazing Racing Expedition The World Has Ever Seen
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This is, by far, the most exciting part of this whole experiment. The paddock for 12 teams is located on board of the former Royal Mail ship St. Helena.

This ship will transport the teams and personnel to race locations all over the world.

The St. Helena is a 7,000-ton ship that had her maiden voyage in 1990. Now, she’s retrofitted as a mobile hub for the Extreme E race series, and she will employ a number of ecologically sound technologies for propulsion - such as kite sail. Solar power will meet energy requirements for some onboard operations as well. Wikipedia teaches us that the St. Helena is a 344-foot long ship with a beam of 63 feet and a draft of 20 feet. The main propulsion system caps at 6,532 kW. It is also quite comfortable with a swimming pool, a shop, and lounges.

What do you think?
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