During a press conference announcing his promotion to NASCAR Chief Operating Officer, Steve O’Donnell said the sanctioning body is looking into launching an exhibition series featuring all-electric cars.
“There’s a huge push across all of our OEM [original equipment manufacturer] partners and even new OEM partners. It’s important for us to explore that space,” O’Donnell said.
“I think there’s a lot of interest from our current partners to be part of that. But we look at NASCAR as a place where, in an ideal world, it would be all things to all people. If you went to a NASCAR event weekend, you could see whatever types of technologies you wanted throughout a race weekend.”
O’Donnell said that NASCAR fans have been receptive to the idea and that other carbon-neutral automotive technologies, like hydrogen, are also under consideration.
While there aren’t any plans for the top NASCAR Cup Series to go all-electric, the Next Gen cars that were launched this year were future-proofed to accommodate hybrid powertrain that O’Donnell had previously said could be used as soon as 2024. They’d likely first be featured on short ovals and road courses where their regenerative braking systems could recover energy as the cars slow down for corners which would then be used by the electric motor for a burst of acceleration.
Formula One cars currently use hybrid powertrains and IndyCar is planning to introduce them in 2024.
NASCAR’s three automakers, Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet, are all heavily into electrification. Ford and Toyota are leaders in the hybrid space and adding electric vehicles to their lineups, while Chevrolet has pledged to go all-electric by 2035.
“For us, the race has to be entertaining. Our fans, they love noise, they love the sound, the feel of racing. So if we’re gonna get into the electric space, I promise you it will be entertaining and it will be something that fits into our portfolio and something our fans will be proud of,” O’Donnell said.