Motorsport has long been a way for automakers to test new technologies at their limits. After all, if a new technology or engineering solution can handle the task of racing, it should do mighty fine in everyday life. Yet, Opel is doing things the other way around, revealing the world's first electric rally car, but it happens to be based on a production vehicle.
The Opel Corsa-e rally car debuted online Thursday ahead of an official reveal at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Opel didn't give the race car a proper name, so we'll just call it the Corsa-e. Like the production car, it has a full that consists of a 50-kWh lithium-ion battery supplying charge to an electric motor. The powertrain spins out 136 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque and these figures don't change for the rally car.
Where there are differences is in the construction. To prepare the Corsa-e for rally duty, the body is lighter and features an integrated roll cage and underbody protection. A fire extinguisher and quick releases for the hood and hatchback are also present. Drivers will have zero electronic driver aids at their disposal, which should make things interesting considering the 191 pound-feet of torque comes on instantly. Ahead of the driver is a new motorsport display with a data logger to boot.
Opel also worked to beef up the braking system, but the solution is specifically designed to handle regenerative braking capabilities as well. Most importantly, there's a handbrake for sideways action.
The German brand plans to field 15 of these customer race cars (yes, Opel will sell them to customers) for the ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup. Rounds will take place alongside various German Rally Championship events and other outings. In 2021, Opel plans for at least 10 qualifying rounds to sort out the best talent and move drivers onto the European Junior Rally Championship. There, they'll drive the latest Corsa R2 rally car.
Anyone interested will be looking at 50,000 euro (about $55,000) to purchase one of the Corsa-e rally cars. It's not clear when Opel will start sales, but we'll surely learn more when the electric rally car debuts in Frankfurt next month.