It’s finally happening. IndyCar will finally be catching up with the times by introducing its first ever hybrid engine in anticipation of the 2022 season. The future is here, baby!
IndyCar announced this development earlier today, letting the world know that the series would be moving forward by requiring a single-source hybrid system to be implemented for the 2022 season. The plan is to implement the new hybrid system with a “multi-phase motor, inverter, and electric storage device that will create energy recovery from the car’s braking system,” the press rele
The biggest immediate change will be the increase in horsepower. Current cars make anywhere from 500-750 HP, according to IndyCar’s website. In the 2022, they’re estimating to hit 900 at the lowest. That’s a pretty big change!
And a hybrid actually has a pretty neat safety implication, too. If you watch an IndyCar race now, you’ll notice that cars are started externally by members of the team. The hybrid will make that whole process obsolete by adding an electric button that will enable drivers to start the car from the cockpit. So if a driver stalls on track or in the pit lane in 2022, he’ll be able to start things up entirely on his own, which makes on-track recoveries a little less dangerous.
IndyCar also hypothesizes that the hybrid will increase race pace via a combination of greater horsepower and potentially fewer safety cars as a result of stalled vehicles.
The whole purpose of this development is to become more attractive to potential engine manufacturers. As of now, IndyCar only has Honda and Chevrolet signed on as its OEMs, but the series has aimed to include more manufacturers. It’s kind of tough to entice a company to spend a lot of money on a bespoke racing engine that doesn’t carry over to the building of their actual road cars. A hybrid system might just be the incentive another OEM needs.
If I had to guess, I’d say a third OEM likely won’t show up until 2023 so that they don’t have to sink money into something that is essentially untested. But I hope like hell it’ll eventually happen.
I, for one, welcome the new hybrid era—even if it was a long time coming.