Successful racemaker Mattias Eksström has been the brand ambassador and driver of the Cupra series model since 2019. In the interview, Ekstrom looks behind the scenes of the electric car game, dares to make a prediction of Cupra and explains what commitment remains has it on the agenda with Cupra CEO Wayne Griffiths.
How do you feel about the next steps in electric motorsport and what needs to happen in order for popularity to increase further?
The market for electric-powered series cars has grown exponentially in recent years and all manufacturers are pushing hard in this direction. The game of electric cars is part of this development. Electric-powered race cars are very powerful and fun to drive. Some may complain about the lack of a roaring engine sound, but that is not very important for the new generation. We have to make sure that the song will appeal to the masses of modern sports. This needs to be integrated with real-time digital interaction to engage a younger audience as well. Electric Motorsport opens up many opportunities for this.
What effect does a series of electronic races like FIA ETCR and Extreme E have on brands like Cupra?
Cupra is a young brand but with great ambitions for the future. With participation in FIA ETCR and Extreme E, Cupra takes on new challenges and appeals to an audience that is open to innovation, electronic mobility and sustainability topics.
Can the manufacture of electric series cars benefit from e-motorsport and if so, in what areas exactly?
Motor racing has long been a testing ground for future technologies. Extensive performance-enhancing, fuel-saving and safety-related innovations were first used in race cars and later transferred to production vehicles. The same applies to electromobility technologies. Again, we push the concept to the limit on the track and our engineers provide a lot of useful data that can be analyzed and have an impact on road vehicle development.
Climate protection and sustainable projects are key topics in the FIA ETCR and in Extreme E. What are you personally doing to protect the world?
For many years it has been important for me to do my part to protect the environment. One of my cars in the household is an electric car. We use that for everyday activities. I also think twice before buying anything. I don’t need a new phone or TV just because a new device comes out. Basically, my goal is not to eat too much.
In early June you were a guest at the Cupra “Unsstoppable Impulse” event in Terramar. At the event, Cupra presented two new electronic models, Tavascan and UrbanRebel. How do you feel about the brand?
I see more and more people getting to know and love brands, fashion and cars. I think Cupra will improve year by year and in ten years it will be a real brand icon. It takes time to set up brands and capture market share, but I think Cupra is taking the necessary steps to achieve that, especially in the space of electronic mobility.
You know Cupra CEO Wayne Griffiths for over 20 years. Where did you meet and do you know a long story you know exactly?
I met Wayne for the first time in the late 1990s while driving at the STCC Swedish Tourist Car Racing. I still remember his positive attitude. He was as happy and active at the time as he is now. I can’t think of a specific story at the moment, but I’m still on the verge of teaching him how to drive on a racetrack. I haven’t been able to do that for over 20 years, but maybe one day?
For Eksström and the Cupra EKS team, the FIA ETCR – eTouring Car World Cup continues for the fourth of seven seasons from July 8 to 10 in Zolder, Belgium. In general, Eksström and his partner Adrien Tambay have a neck and neck. Ekstrom has 280 points so far, the Frenchman is just six points behind.