Supercars is seriously investigating the addition of hybrid technology as the championship looks to bed down its future regulations by the end of the year.
Series management and the Supercars Commission are assessing all options including the use of hybrid engines as it looks for the pathway for its next set of regulations dubbed ‘Next Generation’ with a view to implementation in 2021.
Supercars CEO Sean Seamer says the next set of rules will be based around ‘evolution rather than revolution’ but admits hybrid technology is a key topic the series must investigate as it bids to attract new marques.
The use of hybrids is becoming more prevalent as motorsport looks to align with current market trends with manufacturers focussing on the use of electrical energy in road cars.
Seamer revealed the topic of hybridisation in Supercars has been broached when holding talks with prospective manufacturers.
Nissan recently admitted its impeding exit from the championship at the end of this year is down to a change in marketing strategy with a focus on electric vehicles.
“There’s a process that a team on the commission are working through between now and the end of the year to define what Gen3 (Next Generation) looks like, the car of the future,” said Seamer when asked by Speedcafe.com about the process of forming the next set of regulations.
“And we will include manufacturers in those discussions to get their feedback and their inputs and in terms of what works for them and make sure that we understand what their long-term product roadmap looks like.
“Hybridisation is obviously a key topic, so we’ll make sure we do our due diligence on that.
“It’s very preliminary. Like I said, the deep line, we’re working towards having that completed by end of the year, which gives us the full two years to work through development and implementation into 2021.
“They’ve (manufacturers) asked what hybridisation might look like.
“Do we have the ability to do it? Is it something that we will consider as part of Gen3, which we have said, ‘Yes, we will look at that as part of the program and the planning.’
“We will continue to look at forced induction. Gen2’s a very good, broad platform as we’ve seen, so we will continue to look at everything in Gen2, but I think I’ve mentioned before that we see it as evolution rather than revolution.”
Hybrid technology has emerged in Formula 1 and in the FIA World Endurance Championship through Energy Recovery Systems, which stores recovered energy into batteries for deployment as an extra power boost.
The systems are yet to find a home in touring car racing.
While the hybrid power study at this stage is in its infancy, Speedcafe.com understands that one of the transaxle options currently being evaluated for 2019 has the ability to implement hybrid technology should the series head in that direction.
The exact details of how hybrid technology could be deployed in Supercars and whether it would become compulsory if deemed viable for the category is up for discussion.
“As I say, it’s still very early days. I couldn’t possibly predict what the outcome of that exercise is going to be at the end of this year, but when we’ve got something to share, we’ll make sure that we do, but it’s still very early days,” Seamer added.
Tickford Racing co-owner Rod Nash believes the category should investigate the possibility of including hybrid elements to the next set of regulations.
“The first thing I’ll say to that is we don’t need to be reactive,” Nash told Speedcafe.com.
“There’s lots of examples of full electric cars, there’s hybrid cars, and there’s still plenty of V8 cars.
“There’s nothing showing us that (hybrids) is where it’s all heading at the moment.
“Supercars have got plans to look into it and are looking into it. And, I think we should because, manufacturers have got varying aspects of hybrids, and everything else (with their road cars).
“You can only deal with what you know at the moment, and I think there is definitely elements of the electrification, pre-hybridisation.….that we should be looking at it.”
Shell V-Power Racing managing director Ryan Story agrees with Nash’s view but maintains that the category must consider the want of the fans when assessing its path for the future.
“I think it (hybrid technology study) is in its early gestation at the moment. Supercars have got the right people looking at it in terms of their management group,” Story told Speedcafe.com.
“We need to ensure that we retain the link to the fans because at the end of the day we are all about supporters and looking after them and giving them the entertainment that they have got an investment in, so that is really important.”