IndyCar hybrids to debut July 5-7 at Mid-Ohio

Five years in the making, the IndyCar Series will make its long-awaited move to hybridization at the July 5-7 race on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Announced at the Indianapolis 500 in May of 2019, the innovative technology created in a joint development between Chevrolet and Honda will see the full field of cars race for the first time with energy recovery systems (ERS) placed in the bellhousings.

The system is comprised of a motor generator unit (MGU) that engages with the internal combustion engine and transmission to either harvest or deploy energy through the rear wheels, and an energy storage system (ESS) that holds the electricity it receives from the MGU and returns it to the MGU to fire approximately 60hp through to the rear tires.

The compact ERS units weigh somewhere in the range of 120 pounds and have the Honda-led ESS, which is formed by 20 ultracapacitor cells made by Skeleton, assembled in a low-voltage 48V package that sit atop the Chevy-led MGU derived from a system created by Empel.

The choice of an ultracapacitor pack instead of a traditional battery was made due to lack of available space to accommodate a large energy storage device. The quick-charging properties of ultracapacitors also made for a favorable solution, along with the low-voltage properties they offer.

The MGU side of the ERS package is more traditional and performs in a manner that’s become familiar in other hybrid series like Formula 1 and IMSA. Looking to the future, IndyCar’s MGU also has the ability to provide more horsepower in the coming years — over 100 – if the series elects to use it.

IndyCar’s ERS will be used at every circuit on the calendar, including ovals.

Harvesting energy on road and street courses will happen mostly under braking, which is the standard method of charging the ESS in hybrid or full-EV racing, and IndyCar will allow its teams and manufacturers to enable manual harvesting by each driver, and automated harvesting, if that option is chosen and activated in the ERS software.

With minimal braking events to charge the ERS on superspeedways, IndyCar has given drivers a new regeneration paddle on the back of the steering wheel to pull on with their fingertips to engage the MGU and charge the ESS while racing around the oval. Thanks to the rapid charging properties of the ultracapacitors, drivers can use light triggering of the MGU while running in a draft to slow their cars in lieu of lifting off the throttle to maintain their distance to the pack leaders.

The paddles and new ERS harvesting buttons on the steering wheels are available for activation at all times.

On road and street courses, the ERS will give drivers a second way to increase power alongside the push-to-pass system, which delivers another 60hp or so through the temporary increase in turbocharger boost and an increase in engine RPMs. When both systems are enabled, drivers will have 120hp to deploy.

Where the push-to-pass system is governed by a maximum amount of time it can be used in the races — somewhere in the 150-200-second range — the ERS units will be managed in a different manner. While drivers can use all of their push-to-pass time before the end of a race arrives, they’ll have ERS power to exploit on every lap of every race from Mid-Ohio onward, but the series won’t allow its drivers to constantly harvest and deploy throughout every lap.

Instead, the series will come up with a per-lap maximum deployment time based on the length of each track, and like its pre-event announcement about how many seconds of total push-to-pass will be available, the series will do the same to define how much ERS power can be unleashed on each lap.

“The strength of this uncharted partnership between Chevrolet and Honda has pushed this innovative project to the grid in 2024,” said IndyCar president Jay Frye. “The IndyCar-specific hybrid power unit will bring a new and exciting element to the IndyCar Series with additional energy and overtake options. We cannot wait to see the start of this new era at Mid-Ohio.”

The ERS will also give drivers the possibility of starting their cars with the MGU, which should cut down on caution periods to retrieve stalled cars. The first full-field hybrid test is scheduled for June 11 at Milwaukee, which will add to the 23,518 miles of testing the series has conducted to date with the units while connected to the well-developed 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engines made by Chevy and Honda.

“The introduction of hybrid technology provides an opportunity to integrate electrification technologies into the IndyCar Series,” said Eric Warren, General Motors’ executive director of motorsports competition. “During the development of any new technology, extensive analysis and testing are done to identify as many issues as possible.

“We support IndyCar’s decisions throughout this process to study testing data carefully and make sure that when the hybrid technology is integrated, the operation and performance are exactly what is expected. This approach has given IndyCar and the engine manufacturers the opportunity to ensure the high level of competition continues uninterrupted.”

For more information:

For more Industry News, please Click Here
1 Click and the Racing
Industry is Right Here.
Not registered yet ?
Join for free - click here
x We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our website, to show you personalized content and to analyze our website traffic. By browsing our website, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies.