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NASCAR Unveils 1,341-HP Electric Prototype

The new electric prototype from NASCAR and ABB | Photo: NASCAR
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Daniel Rufiange
We're still a long way from an electric NASCAR series, but they're certainly working on it.

•    NASCAR unveiled a prototype electric race car this week.

Bill France Sr., founder of the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) series, may be turning over in his grave. The organization he helped form in 1947 (first season 1948) has just unveiled a prototype electric race car.

Times are changing.

And it's all linked to a NASCAR commitment. In 2022, the organization announced a series of objectives related to sustainable development. A year later, the NASCAR Impact program set a first intermediate goal of ensuring that electricity inside organization-owned offices and on all tracks was 100-percent renewable. Its ultimate goal is net zero operational emissions by the year 2035.

NASCAR's electric prototype
NASCAR's electric prototype | Photo: NASCAR
NASCAR's electric prototype, rear
NASCAR's electric prototype, rear | Photo: NASCAR

And this week, the organization unveiled an all-electric prototype based on the current generation of models running in the main division (Cup). The concept car’s body is made from flax-based composite materials. Creating the organic composite produces 85-percent fewer carbon emissions than its synthetic counterpart.

NASCAR said it worked on the design with automakers currently supplying teams in the racing series, namely Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota.

The electric prototype weighs 4,000 lb, around 500 more than a regular gasoline-powered car.

NASCAR's electric prototype, profile
NASCAR's electric prototype, profile | Photo: NASCAR

Sweden's ABB Group, already the main sponsor of Formula E and NASCAR's partner for clean energy infrastructure projects, helped design the powertrain. It features a 78-kWh liquid-cooled battery and a 756-volt architecture. The battery is positioned on the right-hand side of the floor to create driving dynamics similar to those of a gasoline-powered car (which runs in circles, always to the left, on most circuits).

The battery powers three motors, one at the front and two at the rear. Each produces a peak power of 333.3 kW, or around 447 hp each, for a total of 1,341 hp. The 5.9L V8 currently used in mass production can deliver up to 900 hp, though it’s limited to 670.

NASCAR's electric prototype, on the track
NASCAR's electric prototype, on the track | Photo: NASCAR

The rest of the mechanical elements are taken from mass-produced cars, including rack-and-pinion steering, double-wishbone suspension and 18-inch wheels. The brakes are the same, but with the addition of a regenerative function. NASCAR believes the regenerative braking allows the car to be used on road circuits and short oval tracks.

Test driver David Ragan, once a regular in the big series, said he could do around 50 laps of Martinsville Speedway with a fully charged battery. To give you an idea, we're talking about a virtually flat track with a total distance of half a mile. That means a range of 25 miles, or some 40 km. Races wouldn't be too long with these cars.

Clearly, for an electric series to ever launch realistically, progress will have to be made in terms of range. And you can bet NASCAR and ABB are working on it.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists