PRINCE William got behind the wheel of the an Extreme E pure-electric off-road racing car today as part of a climate-focused tour of Scotland.
The Duke of Cambridge was at Knockhill Circuit, near Dunfermline, Scotland to test drive the 550bhp Odyssey 21 four-wheel drive machine, which is used in the one-make series that had its inaugural event in Saudi Arabia last month. The Extreme E series not only features battery-electric vehicles but also visits areas of the world experiencing climate emergencies including desertification, rising sea levels and plastic pollution, to help shine a light on the issues.
The royal visit was organised ahead of the annual COP (Conference of the Parties) summit, which brings together world leaders to help tackle climate change, and this year takes place in Glasgow.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting innovative climate-focused projects in Scotland, and Prince William took a special interest in the hydrogen fuel cell charging station, developed in partnership with British-based AFC Energy, which is transported to each location and used to recharge the vehicles emission-free.
Extreme E racer Catie Munnings and engineer George Imafidon were on hand to show Prince William around the car before he got behind the wheel himself. Though he was known to enjoy karting in his youth, the duke will not have experienced anything quite like the Odyssey 21, which was created bespoke for Extreme E with heavy-duty off-road racing suspension and electric motors that allow 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, on gradients of up to 130%.
“Today will certainly be one of those days that I won’t forget in a hurry!” said Munnings, who competes for the Andretti United Extreme E team. “It was an absolute honour to meet The Duke of Cambridge and to teach him about the Odyssey 21 and some of the key attributes of these incredible machines.
“Prince William grasped the basic skills quickly and seemed very at ease with driving electric vehicles. Maybe my Andretti United team-mate Timmy [Hansen] should be feeling a little threatened!”
Imafidon is a junior engineer for Sir Lewis Hamilton’s Extreme E team, X44, and a commissioner on The Hamilton Commission, a standalone research project set up last year by the seven times Formula One World Champion in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, that is working to improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport.
He said: “It was an honour to be at the event today and to meet His Royal Highness Prince William. As a recent engineering graduate myself, it’s incredible to see how the motorsport world is responding to the climate crisis, something my generation in particular cares deeply about. To have His Royal Highness here today just shows the ambition of Extreme E in making a positive difference to the planet, and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of it through my team, X44.”
In October 2020, Prince William founded The Earthshot Prize, a global environmental challenge (inspired by President John F Kennedy’s ‘moonshot’ initiative) to discover and scale the best climate change solutions over the next 10 years. It focuses on five ‘Earthshot’ goals: protect and restore nature; clean the air; revive the oceans; build a waste-free world; and fix the climate. A prize will be awarded annually in each area of focus (five per year), to the most innovative solutions that make the most progress towards these goals.
Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E said: “It was a great honour for Extreme E to host Prince William at Knockhill today. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to show him the ways in which we are working towards the same shared goals around a lower carbon future for our planet.
“I think he really enjoyed his experience behind the wheel of the Odyssey 21, under the expert instruction of Catie. Perhaps a guest racing appearance in Extreme E beckons in the future!”
The second event in Extreme E’s inaugural season, The Ocean X Prix, takes place next weekend (May 29-30) at Lac Rose in Dakar, Senegal. It is available to watch in the UK via ITV, BBC online, Sky Sports and BT Sport.
- After reading that Prince William got behind wheel of an Extreme E electric off-road racer, click here to read our interview with series founder Alejandro Agag from July 2019
- For our most recent articles about Extreme E, click here
- Extreme E has an innovative mixed-sex driver pairing rule – read more about that here