Just the other day I published an opinionated piece on the future of rallying and suggested that electric rally cars might sound the death knell of the sport as we know it. Well, guess who got a missive from Luton? It seems that moves are well underway to try and address the issue. Early days of course but encouraging nonetheless.
Over in Germany, Vauxhall's sister company Opel is developing the first-ever battery-electric rally car, the Corsa-e Rally. The company currently has two development vehicles undergoing durability testing at the Dudenhofen Test Centre in Germany.
According to Opel Motorsport Director, Jörg Schrott: “We have two objectives - Both cars are covering as many miles as possible, in order to gather the maximum amount of data. There is no experience of an electric rally car that we could turn to, so we have to rely on calculations and simulations. These are being gradually replaced with real data. Other focuses are on loads and temperature management of the battery, as well as adapting the software.”
Jörg added: “We also decided that the Corsa-e Rally should match or even exceed the high standards of its petrol-engine predecessor, the Opel ADAM Cup. While the power output is almost the same, the 260Nm of torque is much higher than the ADAM Cup’s. The centre of gravity is low, thanks to the underfloor-mounted battery, and the weight distribution is also very good. Now we need to find the most balanced chassis setup, so in January we will start simulating some real rally stages.”
At the present time, the Corsa-e Rally has the same battery as the production car. The 50kWh energy storage capacity enables a range of 209 miles according to WLTP. In order to optimise the range for rallying, the battery offers three modes: in 'Competition' mode, full power and maximum torque are available for at least 60km. Electric cars have especially high torque, so the 'Rain' mode will give a torque curve adapted to slippery surfaces. Teams will use the energy-saving 'Eco' mode between stages and for driving to service.
Don't expect to tackle the Roger Albert Clark or LeJog any time soon, but given time, who knows?