Is IndyCar Electric? (Full Explanation)

There is a current wave of zero-emission demand sweeping the world, and there is no doubt that IndyCar and other auto racing organizations are contemplating an eventual switch to an electric vehicle. The conversation grows each season, leaving many new fans wondering if IndyCar is electric.

IndyCar is not electric and they are not yet hybrid. However, IndyCar has a short-term goal of introducing a hybrid powertrain by the year 2024. This will feature twin-turbo hybrid assisted engines capable of producing up to 900 horsepower, with 100 being hybrid. 

Below, we will discuss just how close IndyCar is to becoming electric. We will also dive into deeper detail regarding if IndyCar will be able to shift into a hybrid model by the targeted 2024 season and touch on why it is such a long process to make the eventual switch to electric. 

Are IndyCars Electric?

IndyCars are not electric. However, the series sees the subject matter as a topic worth discussing. Given that the wider automotive industry has an increased demand for hybrid and electric vehicles, IndyCar is paying careful attention, along with its Formula 1 and NASCAR counterparts.

It is not surprising that IndyCar is contemplating the idea of going electric. The transition to a fully electric model would be a huge learning curve, not just for the sanctioning body’s drivers, but also for the team members. Going for a hybrid option is far more feasible, as F1 has shown since 2014.

Are IndyCars Hybrid?

IndyCars are not hybrid. The current V6 turbocharged engines have 2.2 liters (134 cubic inches) of output, and they run on an E85 fuel blend that contains 85% ethanol and just 15% gasoline. The sport plans to move to a hybrid model within the next few years.

With the 85/15 fuel ratio, IndyCar is at least using a (partly) renewable source of fuel. Ethanol is derived from plants, mainly corn. Most gas that you use at the pump contains some ethanol, with E10 (10% ethanol) being the most common.

A Hybrid Future

While IndyCars are not yet hybrid, it does not mean they won’t be in the future. In fact, one of IndyCar’s short-term goals is to drastically reduce its carbon footprint, something you are also seeing in the NASCAR and F1 spheres. NASCAR, for example, is also looking to introduce a hybrid powertrain by 2024, which they also hope to use to lure more manufacturers into the series.

IndyCar is also targeting 2024 to introduce their own hybrid model. Early specs suggest a 2.4 liter, twin-turbo, hybrid assisted engine. These new engines are said to be capable of producing 900 horsepower. Of that 900 horsepower, the hybrid system will be responsible for 100.

Supply chain issues are still an ongoing concern, and they may ultimately affect when IndyCar can realistically roll out their hybrids full-time. If the issues are resolved, expect the 2024 target year to stick. However, if they remain a problem in the not-so-distant future, it could mean a delay.


• IndyCar is not currently an electric series

• There are no plans to go fully electric any time soon

• However, the series is expected to go hybrid in 2024

Could IndyCar Go Electric?

IndyCar could possibly go electric in the future. However, it is much more likely that the sport will focus on implementing hybrid models in the short-term. The path to becoming hybrid, and potentially electric, will be a long one that will come with many new challenges for teams and drivers. 

Today, the zero carbon emissions movement is transforming the automotive industry. It may be inevitable for IndyCar to go all-out electric in the distant future. Even the drivers’ curiosity is piquing, with many of them acknowledging the burning question that so many fans have. 

Hybrid Then Electric?

Further, we know that some teams (like Meyer Shank Racing) are even undergoing training on how to handle electric cars. This may lead you to believe that the hybrid models may be nothing more than a short-lived bridge to a fully electric IndyCar. However, one car owner does not believe that we will see a fully electric IndyCar by the end of the decade

In July 2021, Roger Penske said he believed that IndyCars will remain relevant to both Chevy and Honda regardless of if they were to become all-out electric by 2030. However, Penske did not foresee a fully electric future at all, and it went beyond IndyCar. He noted it was more possible to see a future with hybrids. 


J.R. Hildebrand is another member of the IndyCar family who has expressed hesitancy, believing that fully electric cars wouldn’t be capable of racing in the Indy 500. With such little braking in the Indy 500, he believes the constant throttle wouldn’t allow the regenerative battery that fully electric cars would require to recharge

Despite Hildebrand’s take, it doesn’t mean IndyCar teams aren’t looking for ways to innovate, with the end goal involving the hiring of world class electrical engineers. Some car owners, like Chip Ganassi, are scouring college campuses like Purdue and Indiana University, trying to spark interest among electrical engineering students to join auto racing organizations like IndyCar. 

A Slow Evolution 

IndyCar has even acknowledged that they are a long way off from the series becoming fully electric. Just like any auto racing series, they can’t just make a full transition to electric overnight. Therefore, this will be a process in the making that will last at least the greater portion of a decade. 

For one, every team involved in IndyCar must learn the basics on working on fully electric vehicles. Yes, electrical engineering students may hop on for the ride, but current team members must learn how to handle electrical vehicles safely. The learning curve alone will take a long time. So, IndyCar realizes they can move the process at a more tolerable rate by going hybrid first

Teams have taken notice of the learning curve. Mike Shank of Meyer Shank racing acknowledged that you can’t just walk up to and touch an electric racecar unless it is deemed safe, a major difference from the current models. He noted that the first thing teams are learning is safety before they graduate to learning how to optimize the rides.

Hybrids In Action

Another reason for the slow evolution of the car is testing. For each major change IndyCar makes, their drivers must run several testing sessions to ensure everything is in working order. This will be the status quo throughout the entire hybrid era. Intense testing will become a requirement if the hybrid era transforms into one fully run on electric. 

The transformation to hybrid took another step in March 2022, when both Chevrolet and Honda ran tests with the hybrid engines. These tests occurred at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course configuration. Overall, Chevy ran over 600 miles worth of testing. 

For Chevy, Josef Newgarden ran the development tests on Monday before he passed the hybrid ride over to Will Power. Power then took the car for a spin on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Honda also ran some of these tests, utilizing Scott Dixon as their driver. These could give the manufacturers the vital initial data they need to move things forward.

Final Thoughts

IndyCar is not electric. However, the sport is working toward a hybrid powertrain to be introduced by 2024. From there, it is possible IndyCar could become fully electric. Switching to electric is a long, slow process, but it is inevitable as there is continued demand for zero emissions.