In the sport of off-road racing, cars and trucks speed over desert sand, muddy fields, and rocky terrain.

Usually, these vehicles have gas-guzzling engines. But a new off-road race series called Extreme E uses electric SUVs.

“They’re really powerful,” says Alejandro Agag, Extreme E’s founder and CEO. “They’re quite big and they race very fast around any kind of surface, so they can go at about 140 miles an hour … on sand, over rocks.”

He says the five-race series – which started earlier this month – will showcase the potential of electric vehicles.

“But we thought we could go one step beyond that and we could promote electric cars on the most remote corners of the planet that are affected by climate change,” Agag says.

The SUVs’ first race was held in the desert of Saudi Arabia to highlight water scarcity. Another event planned for August will be held in front of a retreating glacier in Greenland on land that was once covered in ice.

In each location, Extreme E will support research and conservation work.

And the races will be televised, so Agag says they provide an opportunity to increase awareness about climate change among fans watching at home and inspire new people to get involved in climate action.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/CBDM and Diana Madson