The Dakar Rally is an annual race that makes competitors drive thousands of miles of grueling off-roads terrain. Finishing the dang race is often victory enough, but this year one team had an additional reason to celebrate: For the first time ever, they had bested the brutal track in an all-electric car.
The car was created by Acciona, a Spanish renewable energy and infrastructure company. For three years now, Acciona has used the Dakar Rally as a way to stir up buzz with by showing off what their custom-made electric vehicle can do. This, though, was the first time that Acciona’s car finished.
Throughout the Dakar Rally’s lengthy history, 18,000 vehicles have crossed the finish line. Acciona’s ride, which boasted a 340-horsepower synchronous electric motor and could be charged by six lithium battery modules and a 100-watt solar panel, was the first to do so without emitting any carbon dioxide.
The course, which ran across Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay, was supposed to stretch 5,600 miles. However, inclement weather and a massive landslide led to the cancellation of several stages of the race. At least 42 percent of the course wasn’t run, Jalopnik reports. The fact that Acciona’s electric car didn’t have to drive the full distance shouldn’t diminish its accomplishment — it just goes to show how nasty the conditions of the Dakar Rally are.
“The odyssey is over,” the car’s pilot, Ariel Jatón, said, according to Jalopnik. “This year’s Dakar was very tough, with some very intense stages complicated by the weather, and the altitude in Bolivia. It was the most grueling race in South America, so we are thrilled to have reached the finish line, particularly in an electric car.”
Somebody should tell Elon Musk about all this and see what he does.