The NTT IndyCar Series will postpone the introduction of its upcoming hybrid powertrains from 2023 to 2024.
The resolution comes on the heels of more than a year of delays with the energy recovery systems (ERS) and other critical components affected by global supply chain challenges.
Facing uncertainty as to when those supply issues will be resolved, the decision was made to push the new, more powerful 2.4-twin-turbo V6 internal combustion engines from Chevrolet and Honda – and the ERS units built by Germany’s MAHLE – back by a year to give all parties enough time to sufficiently prepare for debut in 2024.
RACER also understands the two auto manufacturers have also been impacted by supply chain problems that could have limited their ability to fully support IndyCar’s growing entry list if the original 2023 launch date was maintained.
The call to announce the delay at this early stage of the season is also driven by the need for both brands to continue supporting the 2.2-liter motors, which were previously scheduled to be decommissioned after the final race of the year in September. With the one-year postponement in place, Chevy and Honda will continue supplying the current 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engines.
In dealing with extended manufacturing lead times – six months, or more in some cases – for key 2.2-liter engine parts, Chevy and Honda arrived at a point of no return on ordering materials and commissioning production to keep the existing motors in play for post-season testing and the 2023 championship.
By shifting the bulk of 2.4-liter engine production to a later date and slotting the continuation of the 2.2-liter motors into the schedule, the series and its manufacturers have ensured their ability to support the paddock with engines without having to worry about any additional ERS or related delays that might occur before the 2024 season arrives.
“We are pleased with the pace of the technical development of the 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 hybrid as we prepare it for competition,” said IndyCar president Jay Frye. “We are very encouraged by the progress our team and our partners have made, but an immediate decision needed to be made to ensure we are prepared for the 2023 season utilizing our current 2.2-liter engine package.
As RACER recently reported, the earliest arrival for prototype ERS units and 2023-spec prototype transmissions has been moved to June, and on the heels of numerous delivery dates being missed in the past, the potential for more delays put the 2023 launch at immense risk.
Despite the ongoing delays with the rest of the new technologies, Chevy and Honda were prepared to begin the track testing process this week in Florida with their new 2.4-liter motors. However, a decision was made by IndyCar to cancel the test after more component delays jeopardized the March 2-3 outing; the majority of the original dates listed on the 2.4-liter testing calendar have also been removed.
With the official delay in motion, it’s believed IndyCar has outlined at least four testing opportunities for the manufacturers to use this year; a cutoff date for those tests is said to be a topic for future discussion.
“Thanks to our great partners at Honda and Chevrolet for working through this challenging supply chain situation,” Frye added. “We are going full speed ahead with the 2.4-liter hybrid engine and cannot wait to have it on track in 2024.”
Chevy and Honda will move forward with engine-only 2.4-liter track testing across March 30-31 at Sebring and introduce ERS units, new and lighter transmissions and bellhousings, and other critical items as they begin to arrive throughout the year.
“We are proud of the hard work and level of commitment by our engine group, along with our teams and partners, in the development of the Chevrolet 2.4-liter engine for our IndyCar program,” said Mark Stielow, GM’s director of motorsports competition engineering. “We were certainly excited to have it on-track next season.
“Chevrolet remains fully committed to the NTT IndyCar Series and we look forward to debuting our future engine package in 2024.”
Honda Performance Development is also eager to get moving and make noise with the next-generation engines in the background as the 2022 season takes place.
“We are very excited to get the electrified era of IndyCar Series racing underway,” said David Salters, president and technical director of HPD. “We have finished development and dyno testing of our new internal combustion engine, and once the hybrid system component supply chain issues are sorted, we’ll begin track testing of the new hybrid power unit.”