The NTT IndyCar Series says it’s close to confirming the identity of its vendors for the kinetic energy recovery systems that will introduce hybridization to the championship in 2023.
“We’re very close, and expect to have it done before the end of the year and announced shortly after the first of the year,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER. “Obviously, every day matters right now, and everything is driving towards the 2023 implementation.”
The KERS unit will mate to new 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 internal combustion engines, with the motor generator unit positioned next to the clutch and flywheel, and the battery forward of the rear bulkhead. The opening horsepower target for the ICE is somewhere at or above 800, with the KERS pushing the number near 900 when deployed.
“I would say it would probably be contributing in the 80 to 100hp range,” Frye said. “It’s substantial. And we keep talking about the 900 horsepower number. Well, there’s many different ways to get there. So this would be one of the factors that would’ve come into that; how we get closer to that overall number. So we’ve thrown around 100 a lot. So the 2.4 liter engine should be 100-ish, better, bigger than what the current 2.2 is just right out of the box.
“Then obviously over the years, the manufacturers get better with certain things that they can homologate and work on, and that’s where they’ll take that combined 900 number and go beyond it in time.”
Since IndyCar signaled its intent to go hybrid, fans have continued to ask how the KERS package will charge and deploy electric horsepower on ovals where, unlike road courses, harvesting energy under braking would happen on an infrequent basis. The answer could prove to be the most interesting aspect of what’s to come in 2023.
“That’s one of the final pieces of that puzzle that we’re working on,” Frye said. “There’s certainly technology out there that can accommodate that to make it happen. It might be a different hybrid formula for ovals than it is on road street courses, how it ultimately works, but I think it will be exciting. I think it will be something where there’ll be new tools in the drivers’ toolbox that could be interesting.
“Again, what we’re coming up with is different. And we’ve got a couple of years to develop it and fine tune it, but obviously we have a very diverse series in the courses or racetracks that we race at. So this application has got to add some enhancements to all those venues. That’s one of the challenges, and that’s one of the things that makes this interesting.”
Another area that offers intrigue is the series’ plan to keep weight under control. The installation of a KERS package can add 100 pounds or more to a chassis, and with the current Dallara DW12 chassis carrying more heft than any IndyCar in modern history, Frye has asked his technical team to pursue something close to a net-zero solution.
“That’s part of the process right now, as you go through this, looking for what can you do to reduce the overall weight,” he said. “And then to us, it’s like a net effect. Say it’s a round number of 100 pounds. Well, what is on the car currently that could come off the car to get that weight down? It’s part of the puzzle – how you can get weight out of the car to accommodate this? So that’s something we’re currently working on. There’s things that this system will do that could replace other things on the car, so what’s the net effect of that on just the overall weight of the car? These are the kinds of things we’re working on.”