These days the simple mention of Ken Block brings up images of smoke, wild machinery banging on the rev limiter, skid marks, and much more smoke. Such is the fame of the DC Shoes proprietor-turned-professional Hoonigan that he carries with him the very definition of having fun behind the wheel wherever he goes and with whatever he’s thrown the keys to.
The guy has been around the world far and wide shooting his series of Gymkhana videos and participating in stage rallies. But perhaps this is the first time we’ve heard the man participate in the grueling Dakar Rally – let alone driving a fully electric offroader.
That’s right, for the last stage of this year’s Dakar Rally, Mr. Block was entrusted to pilot the Odyssey 21, a purpose-built offroad rally racer that will supposedly be the base of the upcoming Extreme E all-terrain racing series. Being a series that takes the nuances of EV Racing offroad, the Odyssey 21 is meant to tackle all the harshness and rough terrain Mother Nature has to offer; and this year’s Dakar Rally ought to be a proper test.
Weighing in at 1650 kg and pushing somewhere in the neighborhood of 550 PS, Block feels he could easily place the vehicle along the course and was astounded at the acceleration provided by the EV powertrain – it does, after all, do away with 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds.
While the Dakar Rally still retains its name as the infamous rally held from Paris, France all the way to Dakar, Senegal, this year’s rally takes participants across Saudi Arabia. Still, it’s an equally challenging course for a conventionally powered vehicle – let alone an electric one. The Odyssey 21 is, according to its builders, an example of a type of vehicle that will be eligible for the Extreme E offroad series, but manufacturers may have a bit more freedom as far as powertrain options and chassis engineering is involved.
Looks like the electrification of the automobile is starting to cross new frontiers, let’s see where it will go next.