The FIA announced that three current WRC competitors are onboard as the famous rally series transitions to hybrid power. The transition was first announced in 2019 and aimed for the 2022 season. That timeline is still on track, and the carmakers are already developing their plug-in hybrid rally machines.
The big three that confirmed the move to hybrid power are Toyota, M-Sport Ford and Hyundai. We’ve yet to see the hybrid car from Toyota Gazoo Racing, and M-Sport Ford only teased the partially electrified car it’s been developing:
The third manufacturer, Hyundai, confirmed that its hybrid rally car will be based on its i20 N road car. We already saw some images of what its new hybrid will look like, more or less, when Hyundai introduced us to its i20 N rally machine late last year. The caveat is that this is a Rally2 car for privateer teams:
This is not the machine Hyundai will run in WRC Rally1 events. The hybrid cars the manufacturers now committed to will be Rally1 cars, competing at the top tier of the series. So, there are still some big hybrid debuts to look forward to as the 2022 World Rally Championship kicks off early next year.
As you can imagine, details for these cars are sparse for now. We know these cars are plug-in hybrids and their hybrid drivetrain seems like its riding on the rear axle. The images from the WRC confirm the machines will carry a 3.9 kWh battery, a power inverter and a 650-volt motor.
These fit in an enclosed carbon fiber housing cradled within the roll cage of the cars. The WRC specifies the electric motor in its hybrid cars will produce about 134 horsepower and 133 lb-ft of torque. Of course, these drivetrains will only supplement the internal combustion engines, which is why the FIA and WRC are emphatic about this being hybrid rally racing.
Despite other big motorsport series taking steps towards full electrification, the WRC will still be catching up for a while. The move to hybrids is set to run from the 2022 season through 2024. In the meantime, I suppose Extreme E will have to sate our desire for fully electrified off-road motorsport.