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Supercars explains hybrid planning

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Supercars explains hybrid planning
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Supercars has designed its Gen3 car to house a substantial battery pack as it eyes a hybrid future.

The Aussie series revealed key details of its new-for-2022 rules today, including confirmation that the Chevrolet Camaro will replace the outgoing Holden Commodore.

While the new cars will continue to be powered by V8 engines in the short term, the chassis have been described as 'hybrid ready'.

That's more than just a philosophical openness to new technologies in the future, too, the category's Gen3 taskforce boss John Casey explaining that the chassis design specifically incorporates a cavity for a battery pack.

"In terms of what will actually be there from Day 1, our existing transaxle, which will carry over to the Gen3 car, already has the capability to accept a motor regenerator," said Casey.

"In the front part of the chassis, there's a cavity designed into the shape that in the renders accommodates the exhaust. But it also has the capacity to accomodate a substantial battery pack.

"It's not from Day 1, but we're ensuring that the chassis design can accomodate a substantial battery pack."

Supercars is yet to form an official policy on how hybridisation might be used, however Casey says his preference is an on-track application, such as push-to-pass.

"I can give you an opinion, but it's not our policy," he said.

"The options are you could use the electric power in the pits, you could use it as a compliment to your internal combustion engine delivering power all the time, or you could use it in a push-to-pass context.

"For me, the first option doesn't really show the benefits of hybridisation. I think it would be either topping up the overall power of the car, or having it available as a push-to-pass, or some combination of those.

"For example, if there was 100 horsepower of electric power, 50 of it could be available at all times, 50 could be available push-to-pass.

"We don't yet have a view or a policy. Equally, it may not happen [at all]. But it would be unlikely not to."

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However it's used, Casey says it's important the electric component is significant in terms of its power output.

"I think that, whatever the electric component ends up delivering, I think it needs to be substantial," he said.

"It won't be a trivial amount of additional power. You have an obligation, if you're describing your power train as being hybridised, for the electric component to be a material contribution to the overall power."

There is currently no timeline for the proposed introduction of hybrid technology.

As for the V8 engines, it's likely that the current Ford and GM pushrod V8 units won't be carried over to the Gen3 car.

With the category looking to clash costs, a move to the expensive, out-dated engine tech to modern, more efficient motors is expected.

"We're at the front end of the engine work, and I'll be able to give an update on engines in the next couple of months," said Casey.

"As you can imagine, one of our three primary focus areas is to get the costs down out of the cars. The cost of acquisition as as well as the cost of operation.

"The engine is a key, obviously, part of that objective.

"The reality is that there are more engine architectures and technologies and cost bases now available to the category that weren't there 10 years ago. I would expect to see some slight variation in the specifics of different engines.

"But the overriding thing is V8 format, lower cost to acquire, and lower cost to operate."

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Series Supercars
Author Andrew van Leeuwen