After three seasons of the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup “powered by GSe”, the most important finding is: electric rallying works. Opel has been delivering solid proof since 2021 with the cars, the charging infrastructure and the rallies themselves. Motorsport that is fun and focused on the future. The 100 kW/136 hp, technically identical Opel Corsa Rally Electric cars are robust, fast and reliable; the events are hard-fought.
The positive perception of the world's first electric one-make rally cup is continuously spreading. This season, participants from seven different nations (Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Romania) are fighting for points, prize money and trophies. The rallies take place in five countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and the Czech Republic). Applicants for further international appearances in 2024 are literally queuing up.
Impressive performance and high reliability
The rapid Opel battery-electric cars perform impressively on gravel as well as asphalt. Thanks to 260 Newton meters of torque and well-balanced handling, the special stage times of the production-near cup machines are often on the same level as Rally5 cars, which have around 30 kW/40 hp more power. At the Rallye Vosges Grand-Est in June, the Corsa Rally Electric lost on average only two seconds per kilometre to the conventionally powered Rally4 cars with more than 154 kW/210 hp!
The durability of the Opel Corsa Rally Electric is also remarkable. To date, the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup has completed 20 events. Including the various outings as course car and the tests for the teams, there were around 2,000 km of special stages and over 5,000 km on roads between stages. The “endurance runner” in the field, a test car from Opel Motorsport occasionally also entered on events, has covered 13,000 km at rally speeds. So far, those components that come unchanged from the production model, such as the battery, DC inverter and electric motor, have proven to be extremely reliable.
The high-voltage battery in particular comfortably coped with the stress of tough rally use. An analysis of the 50-kWh battery in the Opel Motorsport test car revealed a remaining storage capacity of 96 per cent. The speculation of some outsiders that the battery would need to be replaced after two years or less has proven to be unfounded. “We assume that the batteries will last 20,000 km of special stages. But based on current knowledge it could be even more. On average that equates to at least 15 rally years or eight times the number of road kilometres driven in normal everyday operation. The battery is definitely not a limiting factor,” emphasises Opel Motorsport boss Jörg Schrott.
Continuous development of car and concept
Since its rally debut, the Corsa Rally Electric has undergone continuous development. The high and immediately available torque of the production motor, as well as the extremely hard loads caused by jumps, bumps and ruts in rally use, made modifications to the transmission necessary. Instead of the originally used Torsen differential, a multi-plate diff is now installed. The drive shafts were also reinforced. In addition, numerous improvements were made to the car’s software, particularly with regard to battery management. “By keeping the batteries constantly in the optimum temperature window, we were not only able to extend the range of our cars, but also improve the charging performance,” explains Schrott. The charging process from 20 to 80 per cent “state of charge” now takes around 25 minutes.
Conception and implementation of the innovative charging infrastructure represented one of the largest tasks of the joint pioneering work by ADAC and Opel. “The continuous development of all components in this project was a complex and multi-layered process, especially when it came to charging,” says Schrott: “We learned from each event and every kilometre. As a result, when we come to the service station today, the infrastructure is in place, the teams plug the charging cables into the charging cubes and the current starts flowing at 100 kW. Everything works faultlessly – across Europe and under the constantly changing conditions in rallying as well as the local situation.”
In the four years since the first draft emerged, the ambitious pioneering project has established itself as a highly attractive one-make rally cup that delights spectators and teams alike. Beyond all the bare facts and figures, another important finding remains: electric rallying not only works, it is great fun!