The good news is the NTT IndyCar Series’ quest to land a third auto manufacturer to supply engines for its new hybrid formula remains active.
The part that’s harder to judge is if and when a new manufacturer will join Chevrolet and Honda once the 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 motors with complementary energy recovery systems go live in 2024.
Among the candidates, Toyota continues to carry IndyCar’s greatest hopes of becoming its third supplier, and according to series owner Roger Penske, who also ranks as the world’s largest Toyota dealer, positive discussions continue with the American arm of the Japanese brand.
“We still have an ongoing conversation with Toyota,” Penske told RACER. “[Toyota EVP of Sales] Bob Carter is now retired, so we’re working with the new management team there. But also, you can’t snap your fingers and expect to have an engine manufacturer commitment right away.”
Although it’s not entirely unrealistic, the chances of having a third supplier ready to go for 2024 grow smaller as time marches on. A clause is also known to exist that requires a new engine manufacturer to give notice to the series and the existing suppliers 24 months in advance of its competition debut.
By rule, that would push a Toyota or any other brand to joining the series to 2025 at the earliest, but RACER understands the notification window can be shortened if all parties agree on the matter. In light of how strongly Chevy and Honda have advocated for a third supplier to join the series, Toyota or any other manufacturer would likely be welcomed in as soon as they are ready to race.
“We hope at some point we can make a deal with them,” Penske said of Toyota. “I’m not saying we have a deal at all, but we’re working on it.”