Extreme E – Changing the Landscape of Off-Road Racing

When you think about intense off-road motorsports, the last thing that usually comes to mind as you behold these racing mechanical wonders is how they might benefit the environments that they pass through. Motorsports is about pushing engineering and the human spirit beyond convention and demonstrating mastery over harsh terrains. It isn’t a secret that off-road racing can have adverse effects on the environments that they traverse through, from disturbing delicate habitats and interfering with the natural ecosystems of the area. What if we told you that there was a racing series that prioritizes leaving these landscapes in better condition than before? If this strikes a chord with you, then Extreme E might be up your alley.

What is Extreme E?
Extreme E is an off-road racing series, which showcases modified electric SUVs in some of the world’s most severe and remote environments. The series is a five-event global excursion that makes use of its platform to raise awareness about environmental issues, equality, and the incredible power and potential of electric vehicles. The off-road racing action is staged in five areas of remarkable natural beauty currently at risk of facing the harshest wraths of climate change. By racing in these various locations, the series hopes to raise awareness of the specific issues that threaten these environments and to highlight the severe impact of climate change and promote the adoption of electric vehicles to lay the foundation for a lower carbon future.

Another important function of this series is designed to provide a gender equal platform— a first of its kind in motorsports. More on this important component later in this article.

This series was lovingly assembled with a social purpose at its core. Extreme E aspires to minimize environmental impact while maximizing climate consciousness, racing in places that have already been impacted by rising greenhouse gasses, taking motorsports fans into the heart of the urgent issues facing our planet’s future.
The series is operated in association with the well-established Formula E and uses a conventional round-robin format with two groups of six teams. Points will be awarded for each group race winner, with the final order of the group deciding the knockout matchups in a seeded system, from highest to lowest. The top four racers with then progress to the knock-out stage where each driver going head-to-head to earn a place in the final race. The off-road stages will be around 4 to 6.5 miles (6 to 10km) in length with a series of virtual gates to be navigated through by drivers— in a mixture of severe heat and humidity, sub-zero temperatures, high altitudes, and dicey terrains.

How did it all begin?
The first use of a fully electric vehicle during a prominent off-road rally would be in 2017, where the pioneers of the Acciona team led the way by completing the Dakar Rally.. Though they finished in last place in the general standings (60th), they would spark inspiration in others to pursue an electric future. Extreme E began in 2018 as a project led by Formula E founder Alejandro Agag and former motorsports driver Gil de Ferran. The series presented its message of climate-consciousness to the public in January 2019 with an event in London. The first race would take place in 2021 in Nepal, Brazil, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, and Greenland. “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,” shares CEO Agag that same year.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the calendar had to be modified during the season with two European rounds replacing the two planned events in South America but would prove to be a success despite the challenges. The 2022 lineup would feature a couple of repeating locations, adding Italy, Chile and Uruguay into the mix. CEO Agag shares that “All of us are looking forward to revisiting some of the amazing race locations from the 2021 season to see for ourselves the positive impact our electric series has had and to see what more we can bring to the communities there.”

How does Extreme E make a difference in the world of motorsports?
The off-road racing action of Extreme E is staged in five areas of exceptional natural beauty currently under threat from climate change. By racing in places like the Arctic, the Himalayas, Sahara Desert, the Amazon rainforest and islands in the Indian Ocean, the series hopes to raise awareness of the specific issues each environment faces, such as melting ice caps, deforestation, desertification, plastic pollution, and rising sea levels that are on the edge of swallowing entire island communities. With 30% of the planet’s CO2 emissions coming from transport, Extreme E exists to highlight the performance of electric vehicles, using the powerful mix of thrilling sports action, and science to accelerate their adoption to reduce CO2 emissions and achieve a more sustainable way of life.

Not only does this electric division focus on the effects of climate change, but it also hopes to close the gap between gender equality by requiring each team to have both a male and female driver. One teammate drives the first lap and then they change places at the “Switch”, ensuring all competitors must be in top form. Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag has previously stated that “This is a first in motor racing. We are ensuring with our sporting format that drivers of all backgrounds will be able to compete with the same tools at their disposal at every event on the calendar.”

Why go electric?
There are many different reasons why making the switch to electric is worth your consideration (Read more → “The Perks of Driving Electric”). Reducing pollution will help protect people and our Earth for years to come. In full electric mode, an EV produces zero tailpipe emissions, dramatically lowering greenhouse gases even when considering electricity generation. Many parts of the world are already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change, so making a change today is important for the continuation and well-being of our extraordinary blue planet.

Extreme E is a pioneer in the fight for a more environmentally conscious future and shows that the fun and excitement of motorsports does not have to become a relic of a less-sustainable past. This off-road racing series is here to lead the charge for a better future and fight climate change in a way that brings people together.

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