NASCAR's EV Racing Future Is Shaped Like a Crossover, Leaked Image Suggests

nascar ev crossover racing concept illustration on yellow background
NASCAR's EV Racing Concept Looks Like a CrossoverBrown Bird Design

NASCAR has been quietly exploring electrified racing since it started to wrap up work on the original Next Gen Cup Series platform in 2021, but no one has seen what an electric NASCAR stock car would look like. No car has been on display. No photos, no renderings, NASCAR has shared nothing with the public, nothing has surfaced. Now, there's a clearer picture of what could be the face of the series' electric future. Road & Track recently got a hold of a leaked image of a crossover-shaped EV that sources say is currently testing as a NASCAR electric race car concept.

The above illustration is based on a look at an EV concept shared with R&T by sources with knowledge of the project. R&T has agreed not to share the original photo at the request of our sources. While the car seen here appears to share many distinct styling details with the upcoming Blazer SS EV, a source working with a NASCAR OEM partner suggests that the concept may be a generic, unbranded car that coincidentally looks most like the Chevrolet. That would be in line with the original Next Gen test car, which was not specifically branded but looked most like the current Camaro. Multiple additional sources familiar with the project have confirmed to R&T that the illustration above matches concepts the racing series has been evaluating.

Like the current Next Gen cars branded as Camaro, Mustang, and Camry models that the top-level series races, the EV racers are expected to look like exaggerated, ultra-aggressive takes on their production car equivalents. Instead of traditional two-doors and sedans, here we see the crossover shape familiar to anyone who has shopped for an EV within the last few years. Unlike the coupe-like Next Gen car, this crossover-like EV concept uses a rear wing instead of a spoiler.

Multiple sources around the series indicate that the car is based on the Next Gen chassis in use in the top-level Cup Series since 2022, with some changes made to accommodate electric powertrain components. The rear end has been also shortened to fit the design of electric crossovers, which multiple sources have indicated as the expected body style for any NASCAR EV racer since at least 2022. Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota are all current competitors in NASCAR's major series, suggesting that these cars could eventually race with the branding of a Blazer EV, a Mustang Mach-E, and a bZ4X. While neither Chevrolet nor Toyota have previously shown a track-ready version of their respective crossovers in the segment, Ford has showcased a spectacular seven-motor, 1400-horsepower concept based on the Mach-E since 2020.

If those partners know the details of what exactly this concept is, they have not been willing to share that information just yet. Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, and NASCAR have all declined to comment on the concept directly.

NASCAR told R&T in a statement that "at this point we don’t have anything more to share on the project." Chevrolet said that its "focus remains on bringing our best to the track with the vehicles currently in competition." Ford recognized the existence of projects like the EV concept without saying anything about this specific car, stating that "[Ford is] working in partnership with NASCAR and other OEMs on the future generation of cars to compete in the sport that we love, but beyond that, we have nothing more that we can add."

TRD president David Wilson also acknowledged the goals behind an EV project without identifying the project itself, stating that "Toyota, along with our competitors, continue to work closely with NASCAR on technologies and initiatives targeting the reduction of carbon."

While specific details of the concept are still unknown, a reportedly leaked document shared by KickinTheTires last July suggested that the goal for a NASCAR EV was performance parity with the current Next Gen car used in the Cup Series. Sources within the sport believe that this is still the goal. Given the shared basic chassis and the expected weight of the batteries necessary for an electric car to race on even short ovals, that would likely mean peak output well over 1000 horsepower. The most recent track-focused EV concept from a NASCAR OEM, the Ford Performance E-Transit Supervan 4.2 that ran Pikes Peak this year, features over 1400 hp.

How the car will actually be deployed is another question. Last summer's leak suggested a late 2023 launch of a 12-car series that ran two 30-minute races with support from each manufacturer currently involved in the series, but those plans never materialized. This concept seems to be in the stage the NASCAR Next Gen car was during the 2019 to 2020 offseason. At that time, the series planned to debut the Next Gen car in 2021.

While Executive Steve O'Donnell confirmed that the EV concept exists and has an "alternative body style" in last Friday's annual State of the Series press conference, he noted that he "would not look for us to specifically go racing" with the concept the series has today. O'Donnell also stressed that the series wants to "kind of test each and every form" of electrification. In particular, he stated that he will be heading to Japan this Thursday to look at hydrogen-powered racing. With those two facts in mind, this Blazer may be more of a concept meant to showcase the potential electric series than a race car ready to run against similar competition in the near future.

KickinTheTires has since reported that an EV concept of some sort, potentially this Blazer-looking model, has already tested at Charlotte's zMax Dragway and plans to test again at the Martinsville Speedway short track oval in December. The same report puts a reveal of a concept, most likely the one seen by R&T, as early as January 2024.

Wherever electric race cars go, they bring questions about the spectator experience of an auto race without engine noises. In NASCAR, where V-8s have ruled every level of the sport for all 75 years of competition, electric racing will be a particularly tough sell. Will NASCAR fans embrace crossovers with wings and electric motors? Getting this concept on track and showing them what it can do may be the only way to find out.

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