As a result of issues due to the coronavirus, IndyCar has pushed back the introduction of its new hybrid race cars to 2023. The pandemic shortened the racing season and restricted testing in 2020, both of which contributed to the delay.
The current generation of twin-turbocharged V-6 engines were introduced in 2012, enabling Chevrolet and Honda to supply teams with engines that delivered reliable power. Combined with format changes, lap speeds at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway rose above 230 mph. The next generation of Indy cars with hybrid power should be faster yet.
Chevy and Honda will each provide their 2.4-liter twin-turbo V-6 engines, while a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) will enable an extra boost of power for a total of 900 horsepower. Later in the powertrain’s five-year cycle, combined output will rise to more than 1000 horsepower.
In addition, both manufacturers have inked long-term commitments to IndyCar, extending their contracts well into the end of the decade. Chevy and Honda will serve as the anchors of the series, while the formula’s format will leave room for additional manufacturers to join.
The new hybrid powertrain also will incorporate an onboard starter, which will be able to restart stalled cars in the event of an on-track incident. This, in turn, will hopefully reduce cautions for the recovery of said cars and decrease the time required for the cleanup of accidents that leave many cars without significant damage stopped on the track.
The long-term commitments of Chevy and Honda are significant; one of the most difficult challenges of any racing series is maintaining factory participation. Evidence of that challenge is Honda’s announcement earlier this year that it will leave Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season. That decision was made by a different group within Honda than the one that funds its American racing involvement, however, and Honda and Chevrolet appear satisfied with the length of their commitments to IndyCar. General Motors president Mark Reuss calls the new hybrid powertrain “A perfect showcase for our engine technology,” while outgoing Honda Performance Development president Ted Klaus adds that the new program “Mirrors Honda’s efforts to develop and manufacture high-performance, electrified products that will meet industry challenges and delight our customers.”
In the meantime, IndyCar series president, Jay Frye, emphasizes that this new hybrid setup will preserve and enhance the essence of IndyCar: “Fast, loud, and authentic.”