Formula E, the first all-electric worldwide racing series, plans to expand beyond street racing to remote parts of the planet with a new series.
Called Extreme E, the new series would use SUV-like race cars to tackle the wilds of lands such as the Arctic and the Himalayas.
Formula E CEO and founder Alejandro Agag confirmed the new series to Motorsport.com, but did not release many details.
Referring to automakers' interest in the new series, Agag told Motorsport.com, "SUV is the name of the game—that’s where the big manufacturers are going and that’s where I think this will be."
Like Formula E, Extreme E is expected to be a spec series, with teams sharing identical SUV underpinnings, safety cages and equipment. They would be allowed to use their own motors and potentially, their own batteries.
CHECK OUT: Formula E creating off-road Extreme E series
Bodies would likely be silhouettes of production SUVs from each manufacturer, similar to NASCAR.
One of the big advantages of electric racing is that the cars are relatively quiet and don't spew emissions or heat in the environments where they're racing. That has allowed Formula E to operate in dense city environments such as Hong Kong, Berlin, and New York City.
Extreme E plans to take the same formula and apply it to more remote, environmentally sensitive regions, both to demonstrate electric vehicles' capability and their minimal environmental impact.
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Even electric race cars, of course, impact the environment with spinning, sometimes sliding tires, as well as enormous support crews. The series would work to minimize these impacts and highlight the fact that they're much lower than those of traditional race cars, which might not be allowed into such environments at all.
Much like VW's Pikes Peak run, a Himalayan race could also demonstrate to the public how electric cars maintain full power at altitude, unlike gas cars.
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It has also been suggested that racing electric SUVs could perform in stadium-style competitions in front of tens of thousands of spectators without the harmful indoor air-quality effects of today's monster truck and other motorsports competitions.
Indy 500 winner and Formula 1 team director Gil de Ferran is leading the effort, which is still a work in progress. Agag hopes he'll have an official announcement soon.