With new-car buying habits showing a clear preference for SUVs and a global push towards electric power, one of the world’s most-watched motorsports series could ditch V8 power and go silent.

    NASCAR, the US racing series best known for its thundering V8 stock cars, has unveiled an electric prototype race car which it’ll test in the coming years.

    Based on the chassis of the current ‘Gen 7’ racer, there’s no booming 5.8-litre V8 under the bonnet of this prototype, with power instead coming from three electric motors – one driving the front wheels, and two powering the rear.

    However, while the fuel-injected V8s which are synonymous with NASCAR currently produce close to 560kW, the ABB-developed tri-motor setup in this SUV develops up to 1000kW.

    Like previous NASCAR prototypes, its body is a generic style rather than a specific representation of a particular model from Chevrolet, Ford or Toyota, which all compete in the series with the Camaro, Mustang and Camry respectively.

    Apart from the overall shape which is reminiscent of many coupe-inspired SUVs on sale, there’s one major difference to the cars which currently race – a huge rear wing, rather than a relatively small spoiler on the boot lid.

    It’s not the first time NASCAR has ditched its traditional spoilers, with its controversial ‘Car of Tomorrow’ running from 2007 to early 2011 with a wing, though this was changed after a number of crashes where cars spinning backwards caused them to get airborne.

    NASCAR hasn’t detailed its test regime for the electric SUV prototype, however it’s tried to quell fans’ fears that it’ll spell the demise of V8s.

    “Today, obviously, we have the combustion engine. There’s a long, long road ahead for the combustion engine, be it powered from sustainable fuel or hydrogen for that matter,” said John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president and chief racing development officer, as reported by Autosport.

    “As you know, we look towards net zero operating emissions for us by 2035, so at this point, I’m not sitting here saying we’re going to announce a series. That’s not what this is about.

    “If you launched this and we immediately launched a new series, it’s a lot of pressure to maybe get it wrong.

    “You see it with the OEMs a lot; they put out prototype cars at car shows and judge the reaction from the fans and decide whether they want to go in this direction or do we want to go in that direction.”

    “It’s also a way for us to work with them and discover where do we want to be. The entire landscape of powertrains in general are in an incredible state of change.”

    NASCAR wouldn’t be the first electric racing series globally, after Formula E – a global open-wheel series – debuted in late 2014, and is currently running its third generation of Formula One-style battery-powered machines.

    Formula E briefly had the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy open as its support category, which used a modified version of the electric SUV, however this only lasted for two seasons.

    Share your thoughts in the comments below!

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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