The RMS <em>St Helena</em> is docked on the Thames next to HMS <em>Belfast</em>, for the global launch of Extreme E. The vessel is to be transformed into a “floating paddock” for the new motorsport series, which will see electric SUVs racing in some of the world’s most extreme locations. (Yes, I know I’m using a ship to illustrate a new SUV racing series but there aren’t any pictures of the cars yet.)”></p>
<p style=Enlarge / The RMS St Helena is docked on the Thames next to HMS Belfast, for the global launch of Extreme E. The vessel is to be transformed into a “floating paddock” for the new motorsport series, which will see electric SUVs racing in some of the world’s most extreme locations. (Yes, I know I’m using a ship to illustrate a new SUV racing series but there aren’t any pictures of the cars yet.) (credit: Luke Walker/Getty Images for Extreme E)

We’re long-time fans of Formula E here at Ars. Sure, some purists will whine like a Hewland gearbox about the lack of internal combustion noise, but I’m sure horse racing fans made the opposite complaint at the turn of the 20th century when cars started being used in competition. Formula E has doggedly stuck with its game plan of doing motorsport differently, with all-electric cars powered by renewable energy racing in places where electric vehicles make the most sense—city centers.

Now, some of the brains behind Formula E have a new electric racing idea for us—one that’s radically different from these cool-but-identical-looking single-seaters battling head to head. It’s called Extreme E (agreed, not the best name), and it’s an electric off-road racing series. This won’t be a test of long-distance endurance like the Dakar but will take place in equally spectacular locations around the world: the Himalayas, the Sahara, the Amazon, the Arctic, and islands in the Indian Ocean. Each place has been chosen both for its outstanding natural beauty and the threats it faces by climate change.

The cars, which have yet to be built, will use custom chassis built by Spark and will look like real road cars—or perhaps like real road cars that have been modified to meet the needs of off-road racing. They will be powered with a pair of Formula E-spec motors (so 500kW/670hp in total), with a battery specially developed for the series by McLaren.

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