As you well know, the Biden administration and numerous environmental groups have been pushing the idea of mainstream electric cars for a while now. And thanks to rising gas prices, there’s even more incentive for it.
However, as you also know, the days of all-electric vehicles and no fossil fuel pumps is a long, long way off, especially when you consider the average cost of an electric car, the fact that they aren’t really all that environmentally friendly, and rather expensive to fill and maintain.
But that’s not stopping those like NASCAR from at least exploring the idea of bringing electrification to their raceways.
According to NBC Sports, NASCAR chief operating officer Steven O’Donnell recently announced that the group was “exploring some opportunities” to bring electric cars into play, possibly by beginning an all-electric series. O’Donnell told reporters that so far, all three major manufacturers that participate in NASCAR, also known as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners – Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota – have all expressed at least some interest in seeing what electric cars can do in a race.
As he says, “And as everyone knows, there’s a huge push across all of our OEM partners, and even potentially new OEM partners. So it’s important for us to explore that space. I think there’s a lot of interest from our current partners to be part of that.”
And so, the exploration has begun.
There is no set timeline for an all-electric series to be a go, nor is there one for NASCAR to ever become “fully electric.” Instead, NBC Sports reported that those in the group, such as O’Donnell, look for NASCAR to be “all things to all people.”
He explained that the current plan is to get to where an electric series is introduced and simply coexists with fossil fuel ran races. “So if you went to a NASCAR event weekend, you could see whatever type of technologies you wanted.”
There is one problem that will have to be addressed before they get to that point first: The noise.
As you well know, NASCAR is all about the roar of the engines and the speed on the track. In fact, fans love the noise so much that when the rules for Formula 1 racing changed in 2014, which reduced engine noise thanks to increased reliance on hybrid systems and so created quieter races, the fans became heavily annoyed. And that annoyance continues to this day.
One would imagine that the lack of noise at an electric race would not go over well either. And that means most fans may find the whole thing a bit boring, if not completely uninteresting.
Sure, Formula E, which the FIA sanctions, is a thing. But it’s really only popular in small circles and mostly due to its novelty. This is partly because they usually take place on small, rather claustrophobic circuits in large urban areas, as the cars are much slower than Formula 1 or any other fossil fuel counterpart and come with only a high-pitched buzz rather than a roar.
Naturally, O’Donnell says that the group will have to find other ways to make those races “entertaining” for fans, especially if they are to become more popular.
Additionally, the group has said that they are also considering a move to hybrid systems as well. Last year, NASCAR president Steve Phelps said that he “would be surprised if a new OEM came in without some type of electrification.” And by that, he doesn’t mean all-electric. Instead, he means a hybrid system.
In fact, he says it’s something that they are already “exploring” with their existing OEMs. They even have a tentative date for hybridization at NASCAR for 2024. And it can be done.
But, as you can imagine, hitting that goal isn’t exactly going to be easy. As I already explained, there are problems with electric cars at present, even when you don’t consider the lack of speed and noise. And those won’t be solved overnight.
We may see a day when racing is done with completely electric cars. But that day is a long way off yet.