Flax-skinned Cupra off-road e-racer has hardened look, softened impact
Cupra is preparing to get dirty in as clean a way as possible. Not only is its all-new Tavascan Extreme E Concept motivated by pure electric power, but it incorporates components and solutions designed to be flexible, adaptable and sustainable. Flax-fiber composite provides a rugged, natural structure, while fast-swapping 3D-printed components keep the 4x4 out of the pit and out on the trail.
Cupra announced its Extreme E partnership with ABT Sportsline last year, and the team is now running a 2021 campaign with the e-Cupra ABT XE1 race car. The Tavascan Extreme E Concept explores the next evolution of the XE1, pulling in design cues that featured on the 2019 Tavascan concept and previewing some from the production Tavascan that Cupra is developing in Barcelona, Spain.
Cupra takes advantage of LED lighting flexibility in adding in a sharp, angry pair of triple-triangle headlamps that absolutely separate the Tavascan car from the competition. Between those headlights, Cupra channels out the hood around a traingular center bulge that ties into the road-going Tavascan concept's bumper design.
The Tavascan flanks feature a more production SUV-like wraparound glasshouse over tall, broad shoulders and reshaped rear wheel wells. Out back, the Tavascan gains a crisper, more production-grade rear-end design complete with an illuminated Cupra badge between triple-triangle taillights. All in all, it's a striking update for the Extreme E car.
The Tavascan Extreme E Concept isn't merely a styling exercise, and Cupra also works to make it more sustainable and versatile than the XE1. It trades out carbon fiber in favor of flax fibers wherever it can around the body, praising the natural fiber for its ability to be shaped and worked in the same way as carbon but with a lower footprint, advantages it admits could transfer over nicely to the production line.
Cupra leverages 3D printing as a way of making modifications more quickly and offering faster in-field repair. It says that it can manufacture 3D-printed components, such as the LED light frames, in as little as six hours, without the need for expensive tooling. This adaptability will help it keep pace in the unpredictable world of racing electric cars around the planet's most remote, inhospitable environments.
The Tavascan Extreme E concentrates power in a 54-kWh battery pack mounted behind the cockpit. It sprints from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in roughly four seconds.
The new Tavascan Extreme E Concept makes its debut at this week's IAA Mobility show in Munich. There's no word on when it will make its racing debut, but the Cupra ABT team is already itching to get it out in the dirt.
"The development of our own bodywork by the designers and engineers at Cupra is the next step in our close and successful collaboration," says Thomas Biermaier, CEO of ABT Sportsline. "The Tavascan Extreme E Concept simply looks mega, right down to the smallest detail. Now it’s our job to score the first trophies with it soon."
"Mega" is definitely among the four-letter words that come to mind when looking at the striking, chiseled design.
ABT Cupra XE1 drivers Mattias Ekström and Jutta Kleinschmidt moved up from seventh to sixth place on the season at Extreme E's recent Arctic Gran Prix in Greenland, which was the third of five planned events around the world. They'll get their next chance to push for a win and move up the standings on October 23 and 24 when Extreme E travels to Sardinia for an event that replaces the planned Brazilian race canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The planned December finale in Argentina was also canceled and has not yet been rescheduled elsewhere.
As for the production Tavascan, Cupra plans to launch it as its second fully electric model in 2024. If it looks anything like the Extreme E car, it should be an intriguing debut.