Currently reading: Extreme E to launch hydrogen off-road race series in 2024
New Extreme H series will use hydrogen fuel cell powertrain; share chassis and venues with Extreme E

Extreme E bosses will launch the world’s first hydrogen-powered off-road motorsport series, called Extreme H, in 2024.

It will effectively be a sister to the existing Extreme E series, featuring the same control chassis and sporting regulations and running on the same events.

That means it will compete in remote locations affected by climate change and feature teams of male and female drivers.

The only difference between the two categories will be the powertrain: while Extreme E cars use a battery electric powertrain, Extreme H cars will draw power from a hydrogen fuel cell system.

Organisers have yet to outline the specifics of the powertrain, but hinted it will roughly match the 536bhp output of an Extreme E car and said their goal is to begin testing a prototype early next year.

Series boss Alejandro Agag, who also founded the Formula E electric single-seater championship, said: “Extreme E was designed to be a testbed for innovation and solutions for mobility. It has become increasingly clear to us that creating a hydrogen racing series is a natural evolution of our mission to showcase the possibilities of new technologies in the race to fight climate issues.

“Sport is the fastest and most effective platform for driving innovation, and by using the existing Extreme E platform, we can also utilise our transport, talent and operations to ensure we're minimising footprint in the process. This effectively means we can have double the race action with marginal additional impact.” 

While the two series will run as separate events, Agag added that they could stage some form of combined final at events - potentially utilising a 'relay' format with one driver in an XE car and the other in the XH machine.

Asked about criticisms that hydrogen-electric powertrains aren't as efficient as battery-electric versions, Agag said: "I've heard this question and I understand the critics, but my view is that I just get on with it. Hydrogen is an option that can help in the mix.

"There's no ideal solution: battery-electric is not the ideal solution. Hydrogen is not the ideal solution. To get us out of the place we're in will take a mix of solutions."

While hydrogen has advantages over battery electric cars over longer ranges, Agag added that Extreme H would stick with the same short-race format as Extreme E. "It's a format that works for us, works on the event and makes for great TV," he said.

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While organisers wouldn't go into specifics, it's likely that the Extreme H series could benefit from the charging system already developed for Extreme E. The battery-electric off-road 4x4s are charged from a generator developed by British firm AFC Energy, powered by ‘green hydrogen’ developed on site through solar-generated electricity and water. 

AFC made the system currently used by Extreme E more than two years ago and has already developed a substantially more powerful version.

Various teams and manufacturers have been looking into hydrogen power for use in motorsport. Audi contested this year's Dakar Rally – which features a class for alternative fuels – with the hydrogen-powered RS Q E-tron, while Toyota is running a Corolla with a hydrogen-combustion engine in Japan's Super Taikyu Series.

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CindyCranor 18 February 2022

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xxxx 18 February 2022

Give it rest auto car, that's 3 hydrogen fan boy stories in a week, more than the number of hydrogen cars sold this month the UK.  It's to inefficient compared to the BEV to ever go into production for the foreseeable future, let alone all the other problems hydrogen cars might have.

HiPo 289 18 February 2022

Two key isuses here: Most current hydrogen production comes from Natural Gas ( which is actually mostly Methane). So unless Extreme E can make all of their hydrogen from renewable electricity, it's just another fossil fuel.  Secondly, Hydrogen Fuel Cells are only 30% efficient, nearly as bad as a combustion engine!  So you can go 3x as far in a battery electric vehicle on the same amount of energy.

CarNut170 18 February 2022
HiPo 289 wrote:

Two key isuses here: Most current hydrogen production comes from Natural Gas ( which is actually mostly Methane). So unless Extreme E can make all of their hydrogen from renewable electricity, it's just another fossil fuel.  Secondly, Hydrogen Fuel Cells are only 30% efficient, nearly as bad as a combustion engine!  So you can go 3x as far in a battery electric vehicle on the same amount of energy.

Unfortunately you equate thermal (or energy) efficiency with vehicle economy - an understandable mistake of course. Yes, BEVs convert energy more efficiently - the economy of a BEV is not 70% greater than that of a fuel cell vehicle however. The gap is far, far smaller. Still slightly better, but it depends on the cycle. Under race conditions, the difference is entirely marginal.