The annual 24-hour race at Daytona International Speedway in Florida got underway on Saturday afternoon. And this year’s race has been a pretty good one so far—although there are still nearly seven hours left to run as I write this. This year is the 59th running of a race that has become, unofficially at least, the start of the year’s racing season for many. But on Friday, the 3.5-mile (5.6km) road course tried something new, when an electric racing car took to the track for some demonstration laps—the first time a racing EV has done so. With any luck, it may be a herald of things to come as the sport’s organizers explore the potential for a US series in the next few years.

This wasn’t a single-seater with open wheels like the cars that race in Formula E. Instead, it was designed for a new category called ETCR, for electric touring cars: think heavily modified road-going cars but with electric powertrains. In this case, that road-going car was a Hyundai Veloster N. Hyundai has been contesting the (not electric) TCR category with the Veloster N, but those all feature 2.0L internal combustion engines driving the front wheels.

The ETCR rulebook is much less restrictive, and as a result, the Veloster N ETCR is a much more exotic thing, with not one but four electric motors paired up so that each rear wheel is powered by a pair of motors. Peak power is an impressive 670hp (500kW)—as much as the new hybrid prototypes that will race at Le Mans from this year—drawing energy from a 68kWh battery pack sourced from Williams Advanced Engineering (which is also supplying Formula E with batteries for that series’ third-generation car).

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments