Does NASCAR use hybrid engines?
For the 2022 season, NASCAR’s Next Gen cars are not using hybrid engines, they are using pushrod V8s just like the previous Generation-6 cars. But NASCAR President Steve Phelps plans to change the powertrains by the 2024 season.
NASCAR Next Gen cars are still racing with traditional, naturally-aspirated pushrod V8s like stock cars have been using for years. These V8 engines are built by OEMs Ford, Toyota, and Chevrolet.
But at the World Congress of Sports, NASCAR President Steve Phelps revealed that 2024 was his date for converting the Cup cars to “some type of hybrid engine.” Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports reported on Twitter:
Why is NASCAR going hybrid?
NASCAR’s reasons for going hybrid are two-fold. The first is efficiency. The second is providing a platform for OEMs to advertise hybrid powertrains.
Firstly, race teams in Formula One and at the 24-hours of Le Mans have long known that a hybrid race car can stretch a tank of gas much further. With NASCAR races often coming down to a gallon or two, going hybrid seems obvious.
The second reason is that OEMs are interested in NASCAR to advertise powertrains form their street cars. The unofficial saying has long been “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” If Dodge is going to return to NASCAR, it will do so to showcase its new eMuscle cars. And Ford would probably jump at the opportunity to win a race with its PowerBoost drivetrain.
When asked about adding a fourth OEM, Phelps said, “I would be surprised if a new OEM came in without some sort of electrification“–according to MotorSport.com.
Is NASCAR going to electric cars?
NASCAR President Steve Phelps wants to implement a hybrid system by the 2024 season, but specified that he’s “not talking about all electric.”
A gasoline engine and electric motor hybrid system is a tried-and-true motorsports powertrain. But a full battery electric vehicle completing a race as long as the Daytona 500 at speeds nearing 200 mph is not possible with current electric technology.
Electric auto manufacturers have begun competing in Formula E and the Electric GT stock car league. These leagues promise exciting races of short and medium lengths, but not endurance racing. Perhaps we’ll see the Electric GT league race on NASCAR’s road course and medium oval tracks soon. But it’s doubtful NASCAR will go fully electric anytime soon.
According to NASCAR, Ford Performance’s global director, Mark Rushbrook, did say the Next Gen Car would be fairly easy to convert to a hybrid. He added, “For a full electric, there will be more changes required, but with the bolt-on front clip and rear clip, you can then have a unique front clip for an electric motor version.”
Want to know more? Check out our ultimate guide to the NASCAR Next Generation Car.