The 2021 NASCAR cars feature larger wheels, hood vents and other changes aimed at improving competition and making them more relevant to production vehicles.
“Nothing is fully confirmed until it hits the race track. That said, hybrid tech could certainly be in our cars by 2022, if all plans stay on track,” NASCAR’s senior vice president for racing development, John Probst, told Tech Crunch this week.
Probst said the plan is still very much in development, and that the powertrains would be focused more on improving performance than fuel efficiency.
Even if they debut in 2022, hybrid powertrains may be used initially just on road courses and short ovals, where there is an opportunity for regenerative braking to charge the batteries.
Austin Dillon tested a 2021 NASCAR prototype at Richmond Speedway this week with a conventional V8 engine.
“We have to research all of this, but I think there are also some deployment options for intermediates and our speedways that can be explored,” Probst said.
He added that it’s possible the battery power could be offered to drivers as a boost to be used at strategic points of the race, the way “push to pass” feature increases the horsepower of Indycar’s turbocharged engines for short durations. Indycar is also planning to switch to hybrids in 2022 and has the same feature in mind.
Incorporating hybrids in NASCAR would also create marketing tie-ins and technology transfer opportunities for the automakers taking part. However, while Toyota and Ford are the two biggest producers of hybrid production cars, Chevrolet is moving away from them in favor of full-electric vehicles.