An electric future for the Dakar
The Dakar has always been a particularly demanding laboratory for constructors looking to innovate. Quite naturally, today the rally acts as an exceptional test bench for hybrid and electric vehicles. In the future, they are likely to be the focus of prestigious competitive stakes once special distinctive categories have emerged in the discipline.
Three years ago, the pioneers of the Acciona team led the way by completing the Dakar with a 100% electric vehicle. Though they finished in last place in the general standings (60th), the Argentinean crew of Ariel Jatón and Tito Rolón managed to reach Buenos Aires after 9,000 km of roads and tracks, seeming to inspire on the way other pretenders for an electric adventure. Whilst they have not yet brought together all the technical ingredients to take a full tilt at competing in the race, two projects in progress will be presented at the Dakar 2020 in Saudi Arabia.
The Spark Racing Technologies team was present in Jeddah to show off its first version of an E-SUV named Extreme-E Odyssey 21, which is likely to be disputing rally-raid competitions in the medium term. Similarly, an electric bike being prepared by the workshops of electric specialists Tacita should be present at the Dakar 2021. Both projects were invited to carry out a demonstration, as will the “old hands” of Acciona, at the start of the rally in January then at the Qiddiya Grand Prix for the end of the competition on 17th January. The experimental Italian constructor, who already prepared an electric bike for the 2012 edition of the Merzouga Rally, is now enhancing its presence on the world’s leading rally.
In the meanwhile, it is indeed with official race number 507 that Gert Huzink will be taking starter’s orders in Jeddah behind the wheel of a hybrid Renault truck prepared by his team Riwald, a Dutch firm specialised in recycling of waste and materials. The team has set itself the lofty ambition of putting one of its trucks on the category’s podium within the next three years!
Credit: ASO/DPPI F.Gooden
Acciona 100 % EcoPowered
Background: the pioneers in this domain, with two unsuccessful participations in 2015 and 2016, then a completed rally in 2017 with the Argentinean crew of Ariel Jatón and German Rolón.
Fuel system: electric (lithium batteries, on-board solar panels, etc.)
Range: 200 km in racing conditions
Power: 250 kw (340 cv)
Dakar: 53rd place in 2017
Extreme-E Odissey 21
Background: the workshops of Spark Racing Technologies took the plunge into the electric adventure by designing single-seaters for all the teams participating in the Formula-E championship for its first season in 2014.
Fuel system: electric
Power: 400 kw (550 cv)
Dakar: at the planning stage
Tacita T-Race Rally Pro
Background: Italian constructor Tacita, founded in 2009, managed to prepare a fully electric prototype to take part in the Merzouga Rally in 2012, which was a world first.
Fuel system: electric
Power: 60 cv
Range: 150 km on tracks at racing speed
Dakar: participation planned for 2021
Renault Trucks C640 Hybrid
Background: the Riwald firm, which has been involved in the Dakar for several years now, is among the leaders in the Dutch recycling industry. It is counting on its rally-raid team to extend its commitment.
Fuel system: hybrid
Dakar: first participation in 2020