NASCAR confirms hybrids are coming, when is the question
What has been a rumor in the NASCAR garage was confirmed Sunday. NASCAR will be transitioning its engines to electrification and might do so within five years.
NASCAR president Steve Phelps met with the media Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the annual ‘State of the Sport’ address. Among the many topics was talk of the new cars coming in 2021. The next generation car will debut in 2021 and is currently on schedule according to Phelps.
“We're going now through an RFP process, RFPing different parts of the car,” Phelps said. “There are parts that fans don't frankly care we're competing, and other parts fans care we're competing. Also our OEM partners, certain things they want to compete at, certain things they don't care about.
“We're in the RFP process. We're on the track already at Richmond. We have another test coming up in a couple of weeks.”
According to Phelps teams are expecting to take delivery of the new car in July and it will look closer to its street version than it has in the past. As NASCAR has evolved with the general automotive industry in terms of the appearance of its racecars, it’s usually a little behind when it comes to matching technology. NASCAR racecars had carburetors up until the start of the 2010s, when they transitioned to fuel injection. And as more and more street vehicles have become electrified it was only a matter of time before NASCAR catches up.
Bottom line: Phelps said Sunday that a new engine is coming. Part of the reason is to attract new OEMs to the sport to join Toyota, Chevy and Ford.
“I do think for a new engine, that engine will have some type of electrification, some hybrid that will be part of it,” he said. “It's kind of a follow to the question, in fact, I know for a fact we will not have a new OEM unless we change our engine.
“This engine is going to sound significantly the same as whatever the current engine is. We're not going to have a bunch of electric cars going around. That's not what this is about. It's about having a relevant engine to our OE partners, both the existing Ford, Chevy and Toyota, as well as whoever the new OEs that we're looking at.”
“Some form of hybrid, some form of electrification is going to be required, whether it's stored engine or whatever that might be is down the line. But ideally creating a single engine package as opposed to taking an engine and kind of choking the horsepower down, is something that I believe we will ultimately get to.”
“What that looks like frankly will be a discussion between ourselves and our existing OEs because we need to make sure we are taking care of them first and foremost before we get a new OEM into the garage. They have been incredibly supportive of that.”
So when might this happen? Phelps said after the press conference that it won’t be part of the next generation car debuting in 2021. However, it could be as early as 2024.