LONDON (Reuters) – An ‘Extreme E’ race series launched on Thursday plans to showcase electric SUVs in some of the world’s harshest and most remote environments while also highlighting the effects of climate change.
The brainchild of Formula E founder Alejandro Agag and former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran, the series plans a series of races in locations ranging from Arctic wastes to Brazilian rainforests.
“Formula E’s great but we don’t race with cars that people can buy on the road,” Agag told Reuters, referring to the city-based single-seater electric series that is now in its fifth season.
“So I thought there was space for a championship with cars that people can buy, especially electric SUVs (sports utility vehicles),” added the Spaniard.
“Then we came up with racing in the most extreme locations to showcase that the cars can operate in any temperature, on any surface — snow, ice, sand — that’s how the concept came together.”
Agag said there had been plenty of commercial interest in the project, with Continental Tyres already a founding partner, even if permissions in the relevant geographical regions had yet to be secured.
“For Formula E it was difficult to raise capital, for this one so many people want to join and to invest.” added the Spaniard.
Formula E features manufacturers like BMW, Audi, Nissan, Citroen, Mahindra and Jaguar with Mercedes and Porsche joining.
The 7,000 ton former mail ship ‘St Helena’, that once served as a link to remote South Atlantic islands, will serve as a floating paddock.
Agag called it a ‘Calypso for the 21st century’, comparing it to the boat used by 20th century French oceanographer and marine conservationist Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
The races, in head-to-head elimination format, will be filmed in areas already suffering from environmental damage or under threat before being edited into a 10-part ‘docu-sport’ package. There will be no spectators.