The first ever electric vehicle drag race took place in Abu Dhabi earlier in January. It was part of the Electric Vehicle Road Trip Middle East in collaboration with the eco Grand Prix. The event was just the latest in a series of race challenges designed to test and promote EV technology.
The eco Grand Prix series says it showcases the fun electric cars can bring without harming the environment. It says the scope of the challenge is to prove to the world that electric cars can be a sustainable means of transportation. Since 2013, it’s held a dozen events. Last year it held races in Spain, Germany and the snowy principality of Andorra.
“Every event is an endurance challenge. Every team, private or company wise, will make as much distance within the provided time (at least 6 hours at present) based on CEE 32 amps 22 kW maximum – so every EV has the same potential chance to make it,” says Luc Perraudin, ecoGP’s Event Manager.
Rafael de Mestre is the organizer of the series. He is also known for setting a world record for the fastest time around the world in an electric car back in 2012.
De Mestre explains why it was launched: “To show the state of the art endurance of electric cars under real conditions driven by normal drivers this international challenge series has been set up.”
Perraudin adds: “Our aim is to show the multiple aspects of the existing serial EVs: during heat and wind (Spain), snow and ice (Andorra) and extreme endurance challenge (24 hours in Germany).”
The work of ecoGP and De Mestre has also directly led to a number of innovations. During his around the world challenge, De Mestre registered all the hotels who provides plugs for overnight staying guest with EVs. He used the data to create a platform called chargehotels.com. Nearly 5,000 hotels are now registered.
On a grander scale, the electric street racing series Formula E has grown into a global entertainment brand and has become a destination for the world’s best motorsport teams and talent. By racing on the streets, the series says it has helped to refine the design of electric vehicles and improve the driving experience for everyday road car users.
Its increasing popularity has led to sponsorship from major brands such as ABB and Allianz and live coverage of its races on free-to-air broadcasters such as Germany’s ARD and ZDF.
The most recent race in Morocco was won by Mahindra Racing’s Jerome d’Ambrosio, who reached the top of the podium for the first time in his Formula E career.
“Winning this race means a lot for us for all of the hard work we’ve done over the past few weeks. We keep on working hard, we keep on improving all the time,” says d’Ambrosio.
Unlike Formula E, the ecoGP is open to all-comers, not just professional race teams.
“EcoGP is only for 100% electric serial-eCars – so products, that everybody can buy; they are not allowed to be manipulated for the challenge,” says Luc Perraudin. He told us that, when it comes to the environment, the event helps demonstrate to the public, politicians and companies that there is no more time to waste.
EcoGP may not have the scale of Formula E but both race challenges are already having a major impact on the public’s perception of EVs and charging technologies.