Electric, exciting, sustainable, but also innovative and inclusive. This is the "off-road" challenge between electric SUVs that is Extreme E, the car competition launched in 2021 and now in its third season this year, capable of combining sport, adventure, innovation and sustainability: a mix where electrification plays a strategic role, as an enabling factor in revolutionizing the world of motorsport. With this in mind, we, as a Group, have been supporting the sporting event since its first edition: the goal is to raise awareness among an increasing number of people about the fight against climate change and, at the same time, to create awareness about sustainable technological solutions that allow us to create a zero emissions future.
Extreme E is not simply an off-road race featuring electric SUVs; it symbolizes the "Race for the Planet": a journey in which it is possible to discover some of the wildest, most remote places on Earth – places that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis – and to see innovative technologies that can reduce carbon emissions and counter the effects of global warming in action. Solutions aimed at making electric car batteries more efficient and optimizing their recovery and reuse, improving and speeding up charging systems, and facilitating the production and distribution of energy from renewable sources at race venues – these are all innovations that, carried over into everyday life, make it possible to accelerate the electrification of energy consumption while lowering polluting emissions.
But there’s more: the force behind the competition aims to promote the culture of sustainability in all its aspects, from the environment to people, with concrete actions addressing issues of land preservation, community inclusion and gender equality.
An extremely sustainable format
Extreme E races are built on the principles of sustainability, starting with a commitment to minimizing the event's carbon footprint. How? By focusing on renewable energy and the electrification of all energy consumption. Ten teams compete driving an Odyssey 21, a 100% electric SUV; each of the cars has a 400-kW battery with an output of 550 hp and can go from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds.
Enel X Way, as Official Smart Charging Partner, takes the field with its fast, smart charging system: the JuicePump 40 Race Edition, developed specifically for competition.
And then there is the St. Helena: a former Royal Mail cargo-passenger vessel, completely refurbished and made sustainable, which is the floating "headquarters" of Extreme E. The ship is used to transport all of the championship's infrastructure and cargo, including vehicles, to the closest port to each of the five race locations, thus minimizing the event's emissions profile. The St. Helena's engines have been refurbished so that they can use low-sulfur marine diesel fuel, while the propellers and hull have been designed to minimize friction and make the vessel more efficient in terms of CO2 emissions. In addition, what used to be the swimming pool has been replaced by a futuristic science laboratory, allowing research activities to be carried out during crossings. This project is carried out with the scientific collaboration of the Enel Foundation.
Another central theme of the competition is raising awareness about environmental protection. The championship is held in five geographical areas, each of which will host two races, for a total of ten. The five X-Prix will take place on off-road routes in contexts with extreme environmental characteristics, which are particularly affected by climate change. Desert areas, like the one surrounding Calama, a city located in the Antofagasta region of Chile. A former coal mine, which in the 2023 edition brings Extreme E to Scotland for the first time, in the county of Dumfries & Galloway. Southern Sardinia, in Italy, where for the third time the Island X-Prix will be run at Capo Teulada, the extreme southern tip of the island. The location of one of the stages, which might take place in a central part of the United States or in the Brazilian Amazon, is being determined.
The choice of these locations calls attention to the fragility of ecosystems and environmental risks related to human activity and climate change. With a view to reducing the environmental impact, each team can consist of only seven people (two drivers, one engineer and four mechanics), and the spectators’ presence is also limited, ensuring broad involvement through media coverage and interaction on social networks and the web.
Sustainability, however, is not only about the environment, but also about equal opportunity, inclusion, and gender equality. That’s why each team consists of two drivers, a man and a woman, who take turns driving the Odyssey 21s, according to the order decided by the team. It’s a way to promote gender equality and foster inclusion and women's empowerment.
The Legacy Projects
An integral part in Extreme E's "Race for the Planet" are the Legacy Projects: a series of projects with high social and environmental value that are implemented in each of the race locations. All the initiatives include the involvement of local communities, starting with schools and NGOs, and collaboration with scientific institutions to promote interventions to counter the long-term effects of the climate crisis.
For example, land and sea were at the center of the Legacy Project at the last Island X-Prix in Sardinia: through collaboration with the NGO MedSea, a project was implemented to conserve posidonia oceanica – an aquatic plant that plays a key role in the production of oxygen – mitigating the effects of pollution in the Mediterranean Sea and carrying out interventions to thicken posidonia beds in the waters off the island's southwestern coast. Actions were also carried out to prevent wildfires due to summer heat in the Montiferru area (near Oristano, Sardinia), as well as initiatives to enhance and protect forest ecosystems, a key element in reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
During the third edition in 2023, Extreme E will not only continue these initiatives and follow up on their results, but also promote new projects. In the stage scheduled to take place in Scotland in May, an intervention will be launched to safeguard northern salmon, an endangered species. The goal is to make salmon fishing more sustainable through a natural habitat restoration plan that includes the planting of more than 1,200 trees with the involvement of local schools and the application of scientific practices.
The Race for the Planet: our commitment
The values embedded in the Extreme E format coincide with the pillars of sustainability on which our company's growth strategy is built: fighting climate change, with concrete goals to reduce CO2 emissions to zero by fostering the energy transition towards decarbonization through power generation from renewable sources and the electrification of consumption; safeguarding territories and communities with projects for the creation of shared value; and promoting equality, inclusion and gender equality. It was these values that prompted us to support Extreme E: we want to leverage the evocative energy, enthusiasm and passion of sport to raise awareness of crucial issues and, at the same time, show how electric mobility technology and solutions that are used in the extreme conditions of the track can find daily implementation on the roads. These are solutions that are within everyone's reach and can contribute to the goal of a more sustainable, inclusive and zero-emissions future.