Extreme E has begun testing its electric SUV, Odyssey 21, at an off-road testing facility in south France.
Three drivers from the championship’s Driver Programme will complete the four-day test at the Chateau de Lastours testing venue, with World Rallycross front runner Timmy Hansen the first to get behind the wheel. Hansen’s brother and fellow WRX driver Kevin Hansen and Continental’s test driver for Extreme E Mikaela Ahlin-Kottelinsky were also in attendance.
“As early as lap two I was able to push,” said Timmy Hansen. “The car felt nimble, agile, and responsive – it definitely didn’t feel its size. It drifted as you’d want a four-wheel car to do then it pulls and recovers nicely when you apply the throttle. I already feel comfortable in the driver’s seat.
“It has incredibly good drivability compared to a rallycross car. The throttle responds instantly. You get the exact response you want, which you can’t get from a combustion engine with anti-lag devices and the like.
“It’s instant powr when you need it and nothing when you don’t. You can control everything through the pedals.
“Everything was as I hoped – you don’t expect that at such an early point in testing. It feels like a car I could spend all day in, so let’s go!”
A prototype of the Odyssey was unveiled at Goodwood Festival of Speed last summer, where it was driven by Ahlin-Kottlelinsky. The car’s only other outing with its final drive configuration has been engineering shakedowns.
“The plan is to cover as much ground as we can this week with Continental Tyres,” said Theophile Gouzin, technical director of Spark Racing Technology, the company that designed the car.
“We’re using the track here, where WRC and Dakar cars have tested, to test the performance and comfort of the car.
“We’re entering the unknown this week. We’ll go step-by-step slowly increasing power and speed as we go. You think the limit is far but you try to reach it slowly and with confidence.
“At Goodwood, we only ran in a two-wheel drive configuration with Formula E motors. Now we have four-wheel drive and two motors – one front and one rear – with five or six times the torque.
“We have a 0-100kph of around five seconds at the moment. We’re not far from the final outputs where each motor will have around 450n/m of torque apiece – we’re at 320n/m at the moment. This is our first week.
“We will check the car and rebuild as well as upgrade parts as needed while Formula E tests in Valencia next week. After that, we’re back on track and the goal is to cover as much milage as we can between now and the first event.”
The championship is set to host its opening race in February 2021, with group testing taking place next Autumn.
Photo courtesy Extreme E