Electric or hybrid? The Indy 500 is looking for a green future

The 106th edition of the Indianapolis 500 Miles will take place this weekend. The 33 cars will compete in an 800-kilometer race, and the IndyCar is considering making the landscape a little greener.

Like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, the Indy 500 is one of the legendary car races. And like the other two, he is looking for a way to survive the electrification of the car.

In fact, if F1 and endurance have crossed the threshold of the hybrid almost ten years ago, the IndyCar is not there yet. It is currently a 2.4-liter V6 with 580 horsepower powered by E85, Chevrolet or Honda, which powers the Dallara single-seater.

But IndyCar is aware that this technology without hybridization is not viable in the long run. In fact, an electrified engine is expected for 2024, exactly ten years after the adoption of V6 hybrids by F1.

It will still be a 2.4-liter V6, this time producing 900 horsepower, 100 of which come from an electric unit. But teams predict that this hybrid era can only be a transition to mass electrification.

Given the evolution of our world, we are moving in that direction said Mike Shank. The owner of the Meyer Shank team, in which the Frenchman Simon Pagenaud rides, is already thinking about it.

When it comes to electrification, hybridization is clearly the easy goal. They are not hybrid cars, but pure electric ones. What we try to do with the team is prepare for it. »

False reasons to delay the deadline?

IndyCar cars, in their Indianapolis 500 version, are some of the fastest in the world. Scott Dixon reached pole position with an average of 376,580 km / h in four laps. Top speeds exceed 390 km / h for the fastest riders.

And it is indirectly these data that give arguments to the skeptics of electricity. The leitmotif of IndyCar has always been ” fast and strong “But with an electric motor, one of the features would disappear.

Noise is a generational thing “Mike Hull, manager of the Ganassi team, in which Dixon rides, points out.” The generation that will mark the future of future generations will have become accustomed to a different sound than we have. »

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And Hull to consider a mental change when seeing a “zero-emission” IndyCar in Indianapolis: ” In your mind you will think that such a fast car cannot make that sound, but it will. “.

However, Hull expects IndyCar to follow the rules that authorities will impose on road cars. ” Governments are designing road cars today “Hull continues.” I think it’s done the other way around, but the reality is that they tell manufacturers what vehicles need for the future. We will make race versions of it, no doubt. »

An electric Indy 500 is “far away” but “interesting”

Not all IndyCar gamers are skeptical of this idea of ​​an electric Indy 500. This is the case of driver JR Hildebrand, second in the 2011 race, who is competing this year.

This is one of the most interesting questions in motorsport “The American is tempering the current possibility of doing these 800 kilometers in electric at the moment.

In fact, in addition to the average speed and distance, the fact that the drivers release the accelerator very little makes the regeneration almost zero, unlike Formula E.

We are far from a technology that would allow us to do 800 kilometers at an average of 290 km / h. If we look at the larger categories of motorsport and pit an electric car against a thermal car, the Indy 500 is one of the toughest. »

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