Acciona, a Spanish conglomerate in renewable energy and infrastructure, created last year the first team to compete at the Dakar rally with an electric vehicle. Unfortunately, they didn’t last long, but they are coming back for Dakar 2016 and they feel more confident than ever after coming out of the Morocco Rally last month as the first team to finish it with an electric vehicle.

The company seriously upgraded the vehicle this year with a focus on efficiency and a brand new battery pack. At Dakar 2015, Acciona’s car could achieve 125 miles (200 km) on a single charge with a 140 kWh battery pack under the race’s difficult road conditions. The upgraded car has a 150 kWh pack, which is only a 7% increase, but the team says it can now travel 217 miles (350 km) on a single charge under the same racing conditions, which is a 75% increase.

Acciona’s team says it is using “Tesla batteries” in the vehicle, but considering both companies don’t appear to have a relationship, they are likely referring to the use of the same Panasonic battery cells that Tesla is using in its own vehicles.

Tesla’s biggest battery pack option is 90 kWh and the most energy dense of all production electric vehicle on the market, which highlights how impressive is Acciona’s 150 kWh pack even for a custom car.

The company’s pack, much like Tesla’s, is made of modules and Acciona can remove them when they are not necessary for certain steps of the rally – see a map of the 2016 route on the right.

The company also managed to significantly reduce the weight of the car. When all modules are installed, the vehicle weights about 4,630 lbs (2,100 kg) down from 5,620 lbs (2,550 kg) with the previous 140 kWh pack. The team says that 40% of the weight reduction can be attributed to the new “Tesla batteries”.

The battery pack powers a 250 kW electric motor and the vehicle is equipped with solar panels on the roof, but only to power the on-board electronics.

You can follow Acciona’s vehicle at Dakar 2016 starting January 3rd.

Here’s the company’s brochure for the race:

About the Author