Cupra Backs ABT Sportsline In 2021 Extreme E Series

The performance division of Seat is now entering a whole new form of motorsport. 

Cupra has recently announced that it will be participating in the Extreme E racing series, as the main partner of the German-based ABT Sportsline Team. Contributing a lineup of engineers and drivers, the performance division of Seat is set to compete in this inaugural season of this new form of motorsport next year. 

To those who have a vague memory of hearing this motorsport before, yes it is the one that Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton has established a team for, called X44. To those however who may have never heard of Extreme E, the over-simplified explanation for this totally new racing series will be essentially off-road electric SUV racing. 

Perhaps the most politically correct form of motorsports to date, each team consists of two drivers, a male and a female, and will be racing Mario-world style variety of environments. With five stages in its inaugural season in 2021 being held across the Arctic, Desert, Rainforest, Glacier and Ocean locations, or to put it in the words of the organisers ‘places which have been damaged or affected by climate change.’

Back to Cupra’s involvement in this all-new racing series, the Spanish automaker aims to further expand its electrification efforts in its passenger car lineup through the crucible of motorsports. Currently for the relatively new spin-off company, no electrified model are offered under the Cupra badge as of today. There are however two plug-in hybrid models, the Leon PHEV and the Formentor PHEV are slated for release in the next couple of months, with an all-electric Cupra el-Born also in the works and will be launched some time later next year. 

Nevertheless, in the realm of racing, Cupra has already developed the world’s first all-electric racing touring car, in the form of the Cupra E-Racer. Powered by a single-speed electric motor in each hub and fed by a 65 kWh liquid-cooled battery pack, the E-Racer intends to redefine the series with its combined power output of 680 PS and 960 Nm of torque. The hope now is that through this collaboration with ABT Sportsline in Extreme E, knowledge gained out on the track, particularly on electrification mechanics, can be incorporated into the improvements of its electrified road cars too. 

Rally cross and DTM champion, not to mention Cupra e-ambassador, Mattias Ekström has already confirmed for the Cupra-ABT Sportsline team seat in the inaugural 2021 season. It now remains to be seen though as to who will be lining up against him. 

More interesting however would be seeing the rest of the lineup. As with Extreme E being a fresh motorsports endeavour, the initial lineup is still very bare at the moment. That said, there are rumours of some big names, from all forms of motorsports, that will be taking part in this supposedly ecologically conscious racing series. So watch this space for further announcements!

PRESS RELEASE: CUPRA is taking its motorsport heritage into the contemporary times joining the Extreme E racing series as the main partner of the ABT Sportsline team. The unconventional challenger brand has a distinguished track history, and the tie up with Extreme E brings together CUPRA’s strong motorsport knowledge and a new approach to electrified racing.

Extreme E, the electric SUV off-road competition, is set to travel across some of the world’s most extreme and remote environments in 2021. The inaugural season will be staged across Arctic, Desert, Rainforest, Glacier and Ocean locations, selecting places which have been damaged or affected by climate change.

“CUPRA and the Extreme E competition hold an identical challenger attitude to prove that electrification and sportiness can be a perfect match. This kind of partnerships boost our path towards electrification as we will have 2 plug-in hybrid models by the beginning of 2021 and our first all-electric vehicle, the CUPRA el-Born, that will be ready by the second half of next year.” said President of SEAT & CUPRA, Wayne Griffiths.

CUPRA’s move into the Extreme E arena isn’t a surprise, as the brand has always pushed the boundaries of what is possible. For instance, the CUPRA e-Racer – the world’s first all-electric racing touring car – integrated four single-speed electric motors that delivered a combined 680PS (500kW) and 960Nm with a 65kWh liquid cooled battery pack, helping redefine what motorsport could be.

That project helped the brand develop its knowledge as it takes a journey towards electrification becoming an ever more important part of its passenger vehicle line-up. And it now has the CUPRA Leon plug-in hybrid, which will be followed at the beginning at 2021 by the CUPRA Formentor plug-in hybrid, which will be available in 2 different variants, and will be joined by the CUPRA el-Born in the second half of next year. All vehicles will bring sustainable mobility with the character and dynamism that enthusiasts desire.

Extreme E: An electric odyssey

CUPRA will pair up with ABT Sportsline as the racing team’s main partner, and will contribute to lining up a team of engineers and drivers for this electric odyssey. The Extreme E has a gender equal sporting format whereby teams must field one male and one female driver. The first of whom is CUPRA e-ambassador, Rally Cross and DTM Champion Mattias Ekström.

“Extreme E is a mix of Raid and Rally Cross, racing through very different environments with tracks marked using GPS,” said Ekström. “But it holds a lot of promise for developing electric vehicles; collecting data to feedback into cars in areas such as software and regeneration.”

CUPRA’s involvement in Extreme E isn’t solely because of a desire to exceed in motorsport, but to also feed accrued knowledge back into its passenger vehicle line-up so it can develop and deliver the optimum experience for drivers. On top, this championship is an entertainment platform across all channels that will boost the visibility of the brand.

There are a great many areas where knowhow can be transferred, that should bring huge developments to future vehicles in areas including driveability, power delivery, chassis setup and steering.

Extreme E’s inaugural season should begin in early 2021 with a five-stage format. The global voyage will utilise its international entertainment platform to promote electrification, sustainability, and equality.

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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