The Latvian-designed OSCar eO will become the first electrically driven vehicle to take on the world’s toughest automotive race when it enters the 2012 Dakar Rally.
OSCar’s entry into the race is aimed to shatter stereotypes about the perceived versatility, range and reliability of electric vehicles.
OSCar project initiator, Maris Saukans, said the team was not simply there to compete, however.
“It might sound audacious but we are indeed aiming to win the category for alternative energy vehicles,” Mr Saukans said.
The eO will be driven by two permanent magnetic electric motors with a combined power of 180kW. Without going into detail, OSCar says power will peak at 315kW for brief periods in the race, with a top speed of 140km/h.
In the toughest terrain, the eO will have a battery range of 150km, and that will expand to 300km on less demanding surfaces.
Those distances are a long way short of the rigours of Dakar, however, with last year’s opening stage comprising a non-stop road component of 943km.
To overcome this, the eO will use a range-extending petrol engine to act as a generator. OSCar director of motorsport, Andris Dambis, said the set-up is similar to the Chevrolet Volt, although the OSCar eO is always driven by the electric motor, and never directly by the petrol engine.
“We can not do without it,” Mr Gambis explained. “The only alternative is to pack another set of batteries in the car but there are plenty of them already. In fact, we will even sit on some of them as floor area proved to be a practical mounting site.
“We have selected a race-proven Nissan engine to generate the remainder of the energy required.”
The 2012 Dakar Rally will take place from January 1-15 covering more than 9000km and for the first time entering Peru.