Extreme E unveils new-for-2025 hydrogen-powered Extreme H car

Extreme E has unveiled the new hydrogen-powered car it will utilize when the series becomes Extreme H, next year.

Dubbed the Pioneer 25, signifying the car and series’ status as the world’s first hydrogen-powered racing series, the car has a peak power output of 400 kW (550 horsepower), which enables the 2,200 kg, 2.4 meter wide machine to reach 62 mph in 4.5 seconds on any surface and up gradients of up to 130 percent.

It features a number of evolutions and enhancements from the outgoing Odyssey 21, not only including the obvious integration of a hydrogen fuel cell, but also the results of four years of learning from the off-road championship to-date.


“The chassis itself is a tubular spaceframe, same in principle as the Extreme E car but a lot of the learning from Extreme E has been carried forwards,” explained Extreme H’s technical director, ex-McLaren Formula 1 man Mark Grain. “So it’s very much a refined and all-new version, even though the principals are the same.”

One of the key changes, aside from the move to a hydrogen power source, is the bodywork, which does away with elements of the natural fiber composites used on the outgoing Odyssey 21 in favor of more fit-for-purpose carbon fiber.

“With the Extreme E car, we had the green flax material. As the racing developed, and we got side-by-side racing and a lot of bodywork damage, what we were discovering is actually we were using quite a lot of that, and it’s very difficult to repair,” explains Grain. “So we’ve returned to some more traditional carbon composite materials, but also made the bodywork modular, so sections of it can be replaced when we have that close wheel-to-wheel and rubbing racing that we get in in our championship.

“They’re made of a deformable structure, so they give, and then should spring back, but if they break, we’re just swapping out a smaller piece.

“What we found  is we were scrapping off more of the green material because of the damage it was sustaining and the challenges of repairing it. So it was actually a little bit counterintuitive, but we were scrapping off more than we could repair and reuse. So the decision was made to make some out of traditional carbon composite material that can be repaired so it won’t be scrapped off.

“The big clamshell at the front and the rear, all around the wheel arches, is removable, and that’s of a deformable structure. We’re hoping that, rather than when the cars are racing side-by-side again, so when they’re banging doors and banging wheels and all the rest of it, rather than crack the bodywork and then either have to scrap it off — which is not great for the environment — it’ll either it’ll deform or release, swapping out a smaller part.”

Grain also added that the use of recycled carbon fiber, and the recycling of expired and damaged components is also on the agenda and currently being explored by the series to be implemented in future. But while on the face of it that may seem like a backwards move for a series built on its green credentials, Grain insists that’s not the case, and the chance will cut down on waste as well as costs.

“It would seem counterintuitive, but (we’re) actually making it out of a material that can be repaired easier, and these deformable sections of it are much better for cost efficiency,” he says. “Of course, one of our main pillars is our sustainability, so there are still green flax composite elements on the car, in the roof and so on.”

Another key change is the switch to a central seating position, which will aid weight distribution, balance, and driver visibility.

“The logic behind it is, if you got a center seat, first of all, your weight distribution is, of course, way better,” says Grain. “You’ve not got that offset. It just makes for a better race car. From a driver’s point of view, you will always feel the balance of the car better.”

But while the change will be a vast improvement when the cars are on track, there have been some concerns that it’ll hinder driver changes, with teams required to run both a male and female driver for half of each race. Grain, however, was quick to dismiss those fears.

“We have trialed those in testing, not with any real serious intent, but already that wasn’t that bad,” he insisted. “And if you look at any motorsports team, the top-flight teams, and how you’ll introduce new technology in where they’ve run pit stops, then quickly those change times always come down.

“So (I’m) quite confident that we’ve got the caliber of team that will work on this and will reduce those times or match, and be inside that 45 second window for sure. It’s a little bit more of a stretch, but there’s not much restriction. So we’re very comfortable that the 45 second window will be adequate.”

The testing which Grain refers to has taken place in France, home country of the car’s manufacturer Spark, with around 1,100 miles of running already being completed so far this year.

“We’ve run something in the region of 10 test events, predominantly in the south west of France at Château de Lastours and Fontjoncouse,” said Grain. “Another location north of Lyon and another north west of Paris, as well. It’s an equivalent of three seasons of Extreme E racing that we’ve covered off between January and June.

“The tracks that we’ve used in France have been very demanding — huge compressions, jumps, long straights, all the combination of corners, predominantly on dirt (and) some gravel surfaces. All different combinations and very, very demanding test locations indeed.”

The extensive testing program coupled with four years of near-constant development of the Extreme E platform means that Extreme H is already “way ahead” of where its predecessor was at the same stage of its gestation.

“I think that everybody that was involved in the championship at the time, which excludes me, did a sterling job, because they they put together a racing championship in a global pandemic,” Grain said, “so the amount of testing that that car did was actually very, very limited, and it’s nowhere near the amount of kilometers that we’ve got under our belt in Extreme H. So we’re in a completely different set of circumstances, and I’m very confident that we can go into that first race in 2025 with this big number under our belt.

“Like every new race car, we’ve experienced some reliability problems, but they’ve been quickly fixed. They’ve been fixed trackside. It’s not like we’ve had to go back and do a big redesign and manufacture new parts and come back again. So it’s a great effort by all involved at Spark, Fortescue (WAE, the car’s battery supplier), and (hydrogen fuel cell provider) Symbio, and I’m very confident that we’re going to see out this testing phase, get into the race production, run and deliver some good racing cars ahead of 2025.

Following its unveiling in London today, the car will have its first public running at the Hydro X Prix in Scotland in two weeks time, with further testing planned for the two Island X Prix events in Sardinia in September, as well as more test in between. From then, production is slated to begin at the end of that month or early October, with deliveries to teams commencing in November.

The first details of next year’s championship calendar were also announced alongside the car. The first Extreme H season will carry on from Extreme E by starting in Saudi Arabia, before races in the UK, Germany, and Italy, before concluding in the U.S.

Story originally appeared on Racer