If NASCAR were to go fully electric in the future, expect Tesla and other electric car manufacturers to be on its radar. However, there would be logistics that the two organizations would need to agree on before you can expect electric car companies like Tesla to join NASCAR.
For Tesla to join NASCAR, NASCAR would need to go fully electric. NASCAR is on pace to experiment with hybrids in the 2020s while its manufacturers seek to go fully electric in the 2030s. Even then, there would be several logistical issues to work out if they were to join NASCAR.
Below, we will show you how close NASCAR is to unveiling a hybrid model that could evolve into an electric design later on. We will also discuss whether Tesla is already racing in motorsports, and what the odds are of them joining NASCAR if the latter goes fully electric.
NASCAR may go fully electric in the future but not in the 2020s. NASCAR has traditionally run on gasoline and has left a massive carbon footprint in its wake. However, starting in 2009, NASCAR became more aware of its carbon emissions and has since taken strides to at least offset its emissions.
They engaged in worldwide tree planting, pushed for the installation of solar panels at tracks, and switched to 15 percent ethanol Sunoco racing fuel, among other actions. And in March 2022, NASCAR also considered the idea of a fully electric exhibition series.
NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell confirmed their original equipment manufacturers (OEM), and even potential new OEM partners have pushed for electric cars. With its immense popularity, it only made sense for O’Donnell to stress the importance for NASCAR to explore the concept.
And interest has also trickled down to the fans as the carbon-neutral wave continues to rise in popularity. O’Donnell also mentioned hydrogen as another potential technology. However, despite the movement, it is also important to know the NASCAR Cup Series will not switch anytime soon.
Although you won’t see the Cup Series cars go all-out electric any time soon, the Next Gen car is equipped to at least run on a hybrid powertrain. NASCAR stated that it is realistic to see a potential hybrid powertrain in action at short tracks and road courses as soon as 2024.
Further, the switch to go fully electric is inevitable if NASCAR sticks with its three manufacturers, Chevy, Ford, and Toyota.Chevy has targeted 2035 as the year to go fully electric, with Ford and Toyota making serious strides in their transition in the 2020s.
With NASCAR on a slow but steady pace to go all-electric, it could entice electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla to join. While there are no guarantees Tesla would partner with NASCAR even if the sport went electric, NASCAR’s doing so increases chances of a partnership.
If NASCAR goes fully electric, it could entice several manufacturers to form partnerships with them and Tesla could be one of these. Other manufacturers may jump on the NASCAR bandwagon if the organization’s experimentation with hybrid powertrains proves to be successful.
Companies on NASCAR’s radar include Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, and Volkswagen. However, in NASCAR’s current state, it is hard to envision any of the above becoming enticed enough to join. Until NASCAR does some testing regarding their hybrids, expect them to stick with Chevy, Toyota, and Ford.
For Tesla to join NASCAR, one of two outcomes would need to occur. The first outcome would involve NASCAR going full-on electric. This would be the easiest and likeliest outcome for Tesla to join. Or NASCAR would revert to becoming a series where differing energy technologies would enter.
It would take a lot of logistical work for NASCAR to allow multiple technologies to compete against one another. O’Donnell did say that this would occur “in a perfect world.” But NASCAR is already strict enough with its current “specs” for their Toyotas, Fords, and Chevys.
They would need to create specs for each energy technology, like hybrids, electric vehicles, hydrogen-powered vehicles, and any other prospective technology. Then, they would need to ensure those specs match well from technology to technology.
Not that this would be impossible. But it would take years’ worth of trial and error, with manufacturers submitting designs that would conform to NASCAR’s strict standards. And they would probably need to go through multiple rounds of submitting and tweaking.
This would cost manufacturers time and money that they may not be willing to dedicate and spend. The upside to this model is that not just Tesla, but many different manufacturers would jump on board. Endgame: NASCAR would appeal to many groups of people. The downside? Way too much money being spent.
Expect Tesla to encroach NASCAR’s radar only if the latter goes full-on electric. However, there are no guarantees that, even with electric vehicles, Tesla would join. Manufacturers in any industry seek to invest only if they believe they can turn a profit, and Tesla is no exception.
One reason you saw manufacturers like Honda stating their disinterest in NASCAR in the late 2010s is because of the overall costs of joining the sport. Manufacturers know that even research and development into any endeavor could cost them millions, whether it’s NASCAR or another motorsport.
Tesla would need to make numerous financial decisions before they ever decided to fork up cash and invest in joining NASCAR. But, if NASCAR could provide Tesla clear-cut financial benefits, they could wind up forming a partnership.
Tesla, along with any prospective manufacturer, would be entering NASCAR at the right time. Between 1992 and 2021, NASCAR cars did not resemble their street legal counterparts like they did between 1967 and 1991, and again with the Next Gen car.
The “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mentality is at least partly returning with Next Gen, and it provides a much-needed selling point from NASCAR to other teams to tell them that they are an organization worth joining. These cars are literally moving billboards for manufacturers.
At one time, companies like Toyota and Dodge had to race their way into the Cup Series through the Truck and Xfinity Series. With NASCAR heavily courting manufacturers, Tesla would not need to “pay dues” or “prove themselves” in the lower divisions. They would jump straight to the NASCAR Cup Series.
With the Cup Series drawing attendance, ratings, and viewers that Xfinity and Truck cannot draw, Tesla would also likely turn faster profits than Toyota and Dodge were able to turn when they joined NASCAR in 2004 (2007 for Cup) and 1996 (2000 for Cup).
Tesla is only involved indirectly in motorsport as the sponsor of Formula SAE, with discounted car parts. They have also competed and won in the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. Tesla are building up their reputation and experience in motorsports and many former SAE drivers now work for them.
Tesla could end up joining NASCAR if they feel it would be beneficial to them, but NASCAR would need to go fully electric before Tesla would consider joining. With Chevy, Ford, and Toyota all making commitments to the electric vehicle movement, it is realistic to believe NASCAR will do the same.
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