Sand, sun, and electric off-road SUVs: Extreme E holds its first race

Traveling to threatened environments in order to have a race to raise awareness about the threats to those environments might seem a little counterintuitive at first glance. But that’s the concept behind Extreme E, a new racing series for electric off-road SUVs, created by some of the people who gave us Formula E.

When Extreme E was launched, it promised challenging racing against a backdrop of spectacular (spectator-free) scenery in remote locations, with participants traveling by ecologically aware boat, not fleets of jumbo jets. And the first X Prix, held this past weekend in Saudi Arabia, certainly delivered in that regard, with action reminiscent of a Tatooine pod race.

The fledgling sport has already attracted some of the biggest names in racing. Formula 1 world champions Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, and Jenson Button are each fielding a team, and Button is also donning his nomex as one of the drivers. As are rally legends Sebastian Loeb and Carlos Sainz, and Laia Sanz, one of the most successful Trials riders and a distinguished Dakar competitor. Even GMC Hummer is taking part now that it has found a new lease on life as an EV brand.

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