- The Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer previews the hybrid powertrains set to arrive for the 2024 IndyCar season.
- The IndyCar twin-turbo V-6 is accompanied by an electric motor and a supercapacitor—a component previously seen in the Lamborghini Sián—to combine for approximately 800 horsepower.
- The CR-V Hybrid Racer will make its in-person debut at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this weekend before touring the other tracks on the 2023 IndyCar schedule.
At heart, Honda is an engineering company, as it likes to remind us in commercials showing off its diverse product lineup from cars to outboard motors to airplanes. The automaker also has a long history in motorsports and currently supplies engines to five teams in IndyCar, which will introduce hybrid power units for the 2024 season. To prepare for IndyCar’s electrification, Honda let its engineers go wild to create the CR-V Hybrid Racer, described by Honda as a “rolling laboratory” that provides a “sneak preview” of the next era of IndyCar racing.
The CR-V Hybrid Racer may resemble a regular CR-V, which is Honda’s most popular vehicle, but beneath the family-car shape lies a tube-frame chassis and a mid-mounted twin-turbocharged 2.2-liter V-6 out of an IndyCar. The V-6 runs on a 100 percent renewable race fuel developed by Shell for the 2023 IndyCar season, which consists of ethanol derived from sugarcane waste and other biofuels. That engine is paired with an Xtrac six-speed paddle shift gearbox and a unique hybrid system composed of an electric motor developed by Empel and a supercapacitor from Skeleton Technologies.
While supercapacitors cannot store as much energy for as long as traditional batteries, they are efficient and can dispense lots of energy incredibly quickly, making it ideal for performance vehicles. The only production vehicle to use a supercapacitor was the limited-edition 2021 Lamborghini Sián.
In a media roundtable, David Salters, president and technical director for Honda Performance Development, said that the system produces around 800 horsepower. Salters also explained the company was focusing on investigating new technologies, and emphasized good supercapacitors are a smart choice for delivering lots of power. The system can be used in a variety of ways, including a “push-to-pass” boost, regeneration under braking, filling in for the gas engine while lifting and coasting, and improving drivability by smoothing out turbo response.
The CR-V Hybrid Racer’s rear suspension and brakes are adapted from the Dallara-built IndyCar, while the front suspension and brakes were borrowed from an Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22. The dynamic SUV concept rides on Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 summer tires measuring 285/35 up front and 305/35 at the rear, wrapped around 20-inch wheels.
Honda says the CR-V Hybrid Racer’s dramatic looks were inspired by the Group B rally cars of the 1980s, and while the windshield and greenhouse are standard CR-V parts, the lower bodywork, which includes beefy fender flares, is custom-designed from carbon fiber. The vehicle features extreme aerodynamics, with a gigantic rear wing, a sharp front splitter, and sporty side skirts. Half-size butterfly doors provide access to the stripped-out interior.
The Hybrid Racer also has a vivid, eye-catching wrap with a cross-section design that hints at elements of the IndyCar powertrain and also includes outlines of some of the tracks IndyCar competes at. The CR-V Hybrid Racer will debut at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this weekend, and it will make on-track demonstrations at several IndyCar events this year. Hopefully the CR-V Hybrid Racer inspired Honda to build a sportier CR-V for the road, possibly bearing the Si or Type-R moniker.
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Associate News Editor
Caleb Miller began blogging about cars at 13 years old, and he realized his dream of writing for a car magazine after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University and joining the car and driver team. He loves quirky and obscure autos, aiming to one day own something bizarre like a Nissan S-Cargo, and is an avid motorsports fan.