On Thursday, NASCAR's senior vice president for racing development John Probst announced that the series organizers were contemplating introducing hybrid NASCAR race cars as early as 2022.
The executive said NASCAR, which is well aware that electrification is happening in many other race series, will begin presenting hybrid race cars after 2021 with electrified NASCAR racers hitting the tracks in 2022.
Some, however, question whether hybrid technology is suitable for the oval tracks used for stock car racing, believing it may be better for shorter circuits and those with more turns for braking. These types of tracks would showcase the regenerative braking systems of hybrid systems. As an example, Formula One's drag-reduction system allows racers to activate the system to deliver a surge of extra power for passing.
Regardless of how hybrid systems impact racing, Probst says the goal is to add power. A hybrid upgrade would have to enhance current internal-combustion engines. NASCAR will work with Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota to see how the technology can work best for the race series. The boost is expected to be about 150 horsepower, the equivalent of adding the power of a 2015 Volkswagen Golf. Gasoline-powered IndyCars have about 750 horsepower, but the gas-electric models will have 900 horsepower.
Although NASCAR is considering hybrid technology, don’t expect to see a battery-electric race any time soon since fans still expect to hear roaring engines on the track. Also, before introducing hybrid powertrains, NASCAR will present its next-generation race car in 2021. A prototype for the next-generation race car was showcased last Wednesday at Richmond Raceway after being in development for the past two years.
NASCAR says the next car, which will be introduced into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2021, will pay homage to traditional stock cars, but also integrate new technology. The car was built by Richard Childress Racing in collaboration with NASCAR.
According to Gary Gastelu, Fox News automotive editor, Toyota is excited about the idea of NASCAR introducing hybrid cars because they sell a lot of hybrids. Also, Ford, which races a Mustang in NASCAR, has a hybrid performance Mustang that will be launched in 2021 or 2022.