The Dakar Rally is probably the most brutal automotive race in all the world (and its on my bucket list!) That isn’t stopping Alister McRae and his team from entering an all-electric dune buggy into the Dakar next year.
This will be the second electrified vehicle to enter the grueling 5,500 mile race, as a Latvian team plans to enter a hybrid-electric truck in the series come 2012. But the McRae buggy will be 100% electric, with a 54 kWh battery and a robust 200 kW motor, which is just slightly better on both fronts than the $109,000 Tesla Roadster. The EV system will be based on a McRae ProDakar buggy body, which has successfully finished the Dakar Rally twice in as many years (which is an accomplishment in and of itself; 2/3 of contestants don’t finish the race.)
Of course, finding a place to plug into in the middle of the desolate Argentinean, Chilean, and Peruvian wilderness isn’t exactly simple, so a support team with quick-chargers will be on hand should the buggy run out of juice. Led by Alister McRae, brother of famed rally racer Colin McRae, this team has a ton of Dakar experience that will prove instrumental in bringing the buggy across the finish line. Veteran driver Tim Coronel will pilot this pugnacious EV in the Dakar, which starts January 1st, 2012.
The electrification of motorsports is well under way, and while I don’t expect either the buggy nor the hybrid truck to take the win, there are some inherent benefits to using an electric vehicle across rough terrain. For one, the motor doesn’t need to take in air, meaning there is no air filter to choke. Nor does one have to worry about busting open a gas tank or overheating the radiator. In fact, the sheer simplicity and the electric motor could hand EV’s a distinct advantage in races like the Dakar, once battery technology manages to catch up that is. I can’t wait to see these guys in action. Not one, but two EV’s in Dakar? Who’d have thunk it?
Source: McRae Buggy
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.