NASCAR unveils electric race car prototype in Chicago

NASCAR unveiled its prototype electric race car over the weekend, marking a significant step in the company’s efforts to reduce emissions and increase electrification in the sport.

The “ABB NASCAR EV Prototype” was created in NASCAR’s partnership with Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota and electrification company ABB to further the racing company’s sustainability goals, including reaching net-zero operating emissions over the next 10 years, NASCAR said in a release.

The reveal of the $1.5 million prototype took place in downtown Chicago on Saturday, a day ahead of NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race.

“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,” Ralph Donati, ABB’s executive vice president, said in a statement.

NASCAR noted that while it remains “committed” to the legacy role of the internal combustion engine in racing, it is also focused on decarbonizing its operations and reducing its carbon footprint to zero by 2035.

The company wants to depict electric vehicles, and more broadly electrification, in racing as cool, fun and accessible, Riley Nelson, NASCAR’s head of sustainability, told The Associated Press.

Semi-retired NASCAR driver David Ragan was the first to drive the car and told AP the sound and smell of it was unlike anything he observed since he started racing at age 11.

The electrified stock car can produce 1,000 kilowatts at peak power and has regenerative braking to make it ideal for road courses and short oval tracks, NASCAR said. It is a crossover utility vehicle with a large wing on the back to boost aerodynamics.

Should electric vehicles become more common on the NASCAR race track, the events would surely be quieter, without the typical roar of engines at the start of the race.

John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president and chief racing development officer, told AP he believes the company could reinvent the fan experience, including the possibility of a DJ.

“It’s our goal to entertain our fans,” he said. “If our fans tell us this is what they want to see, we know how to create a racing series around pretty much anything.”

The prototype comes amid a wider push towards electric vehicles, including that from the Biden administration, which published a new rule earlier this year that could make a significant share of the new vehicle market electric or hybrid by 2032.

U.S. electric vehicle sales overall rose 7 percent during the first half of the year, AP reported, citing preliminary tallies last week by Electric vehicles accounted for 7.6 percent of the U.S. new vehicle market, about the same as it was for all of last year, AP added.

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