Next Year's Dakar Rally Will Have an Electric Intruder on Its Starting Gridline

Electric propulsion is making more and more incursions into the world of motorsport, and it's only a matter of time until one of these vehicles is going to win a mixed competition.
Acciona 100% EcoPowered 8 photos
Photo: Acciona
Acciona 100% EcoPoweredAcciona 100% EcoPoweredAcciona 100% EcoPoweredAcciona 100% EcoPoweredAcciona 100% EcoPoweredAcciona 100% EcoPoweredAcciona 100% EcoPowered
Up until now, the only significant championship involving battery-powered cars was the Formula E. Essentially a copy of Formula One minus the noise, the competition was pretty successful despite the fact the cars were very similar to each other in terms of performance. Or, perhaps, that's precisely what made it so captivating to watch.

Roborace, the Formula E spinoff featuring self-driven cars is about to launch next year, and so is the Electric GT series - a new championship using slightly modified Tesla Model S cars that is to WTCC what Formula E is to Formula One.

Creating a separate series for electric vehicles is one way to make this propulsion alternative known to the people, but going head-to-head with the fossil fuel powered racers is definitely an even more effective method. Well, as long as you put on a decent fight, that is.

This exactly what Spanish energy company Acciona wants to do with its electric racer. This 39th edition of the world's most gruesome rally-raid competition will actually be the third time that Acciona shows up on the starting grid.

Each new edition, Acciona has improved its vehicle, and the stats of the one that will be fielded next year are nothing short of impressive. Called El Acciona 100% EcoPowered, it comes with a 150 kWh battery pack offering 200 kilometers (124 miles) of range in race conditions. Thanks to a fast-charging 150 kW system, the car can replenish its batteries in just one hour.

It uses a 250 kW electric motor (335 hp) that also develops a much needed 800 Nm (590 lb-ft) of torque. Despite having just one motor, it still gets four-wheel-drive thanks to a conventional system while also using a six-speed sequential gearbox. These things will definitely help its efficiency, but they also mean more things that can potentially break down.

In the previous two years, Acciona failed to finish the whole competition, but things do look much more promising now. The next Dakar Rally starts this Monday, January 2, and ends on January 14, taking drivers through three South American countries for a total length of 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles). The goal of the Acciona team is to prove the course can be completed just as well in a car that has zero emissions at the pipe, something it couldn't do in the previous two editions.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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