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IndyCar Goes Hybrid

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IndyCar has announced it will use single-source hybrid systems in its race cars starting with the 2022 season, which will work in parallel with the internal combustion engines developed by Honda and Chevrolet to produce over 900 horsepower.

The hybrid system will be the same for every car and will be comprised of a multi-phase motor, inverter, and electric storage device that can capture energy from the car’s braking system. Thanks to the system, for the first time drivers will be able to start their cars from the cockpit rather than depend on a manual, hand-held electric starter.

This is expected to improve safety as it will allow drivers to quickly restart their car if they stall on the track, thus reducing their exposure. As an extra bonus, it will also reduce the number of necessary cautions and therefore potentially improve race times, though this may happen anyway because the hybrid powertrains will very likely be faster than the current engines.

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In addition, electrification will not only boost the effectiveness of the push-to-pass system and lower CO2 emissions, but also provide participating manufacturers a chance to develop better electrified technology for their road cars.

Honda says it is fully committed to the new regulations, which is not surprising as the automaker is planning to make two-thirds of its global vehicle sales electrified by 2030. Honda has also been racing hybrid powertrains over the past five years in Formula One, and while the IndyCar hybrid unit will be single-sourced rather than custom-made by Honda like in F1, the automaker is confident its experience and recent success in F1 will give it the edge over its main rival.

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