NASCAR Just Unveiled its Prototype Electric Vehicle

A classic look meets cutting-edge technology

NASCAR's EV prototype just made its debut.

Professional auto racing has long been the domain of cars and trucks powered by internal-combustion engines, with Formula 1 cars using over 200 pounds of fuel per race. But not ever racing series has gone that route; there’s also Formula E and the upcoming relaunch of Extreme E as a hydrogen-powered series. With that in mind, you may well have wondered what an existing racing series might look like if it shifted metaphorical gears from gas to electric.

This weekend, NASCAR offered a glimpse of precisely that. At the NASCAR Chicago Street Race, the racing series debuted its electric prototype, made in collaboration with ABB. This doesn’t mean that NASCAR has plans to move away from its current systems; instead, the announcement points to the prototype as a kind of proof of concept for electric race cars.

“The objective of the collaboration between NASCAR, ABB in the United States and the NASCAR industry is to push the boundaries of electrification technology, from EV racing to long-haul transportation to facility operations,” said ABB Executive Vice President Ralph Donati in a statement.

To look at photos of the prototype, it looks — well, it looks like most of the vehicles that compete in NASCAR. It’s when the car is in motion that its method of propulsion is most clear; as The Verge’s Wes Davis writes, “Imagine going to a race and not feeling totally rattled and overwhelmed by the noise!”

ABB wasn’t the only company working with NASCAR on this vehicle. OEM partners Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota were also involved, with the same engineering team that was responsible for NASCAR competing at 24 Hours of Le Mans. The prototype has three motors and is capable of generating 1,000 kW. This might not represent the future of auto racing, but it does suggest a few roads waiting to be taken.

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