Over the weekend, the San Felipe 250 off-road race hosted not one, but two electric race trucks. They represented two very different backgrounds and strategies, and they came away with very different results. On the one end you had Lordstown Motors, one of several hopeful electric truck manufacturers entering a factory-backed truck developed with the help of big-name off-road racing truck manufacturer Brenthel Industries. On the other you had Kyle Seggelin and his homemade Toyota 4Runner with an electric motor and a bunch of swappable battery packs. You may be surprised at who made it farther.
We'll start off with the big name of Lordstown, though. While the team, like any that entered, had every intention of finishing the race, it ran into issues relatively early on. The truck made it through the first 40-mile stage without any serious trouble, and it stopped to recharge. As the company explained, the truck was using four times as much electricity as normal, as opposed to their estimate of three times as much. Apparently the next stage was a 65-mile leg, and the team was concerned the truck might run out of power midway with no way to charge it. So instead of risking the truck being stranded, they dropped out. Other than the power consumption, Lordstown reported no other issues with the motors, batteries or chassis, which are all good signs for the production trucks and hopefully a return by the company to the race.
Seggelin's electric 4Runner ended up with the better run of the race, and also used a different strategy. Whereas Lordstown was recharging the truck's batteries between stages, Seggelin's team had several battery packs that could be swapped out for a quick change. This was also the same truck and strategy the team employed at the King of the Hammers, as reported by CNET Roadshow. While the team managed to get the 4Runner across the finish line, they weren't so lucky at San Felipe. According to a Facebook post from FishGistics, an electrical issue at mile 156 put them out of the running. We've reached out to Seggelin for more details about the truck and how things went during the race, and we'll update this post with more information if we hear back.
On the surface, it might seem like a disappointing end for EVs, but look a little closer and this race showed a lot of promise for electric off-road racing. A new manufacturer with the help of industry veterans built a truck that seemed quite robust for its very first attempt at the race. Without the range and charging issue, it might've completed the race. And a person with a completely homemade electric off-roader nearly finished, and already has another big event under his belt. That's all really impressive stuff, and it can only get better from here.
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