IMSA has revealed that it is exploring the possibility of launching an all-electric sports car series for prototypes, having begun an “exploratory mission” on an ePrototype concept.
Revealed during last weekend’s IMSA Green announcement in Detroit, the North American sanctioning body announced a firm commitment to electrified racing, first with the planned rollout of hybrid powertrains in its next-generation DPi platform, along with possibilities in both ETCR and an all-electric prototype project.
According to IMSA President Scott Atherton, ePrototype is an “internal initiative” that’s being explored amid the automotive industry’s ever-changing landscape.
“It’s an exploratory mission right now,” Atherton told e-racing365.
“Ideally, it would be a spec series, so a spec chassis, spec drivetrain, to bring e-racing into IMSA in a way that’s consistent with our current platform.
“The challenge, of course, as is the case in every situation we face, is just finding time on the schedule to add another element to the weekend.”
Further details on the concept have yet to be detailed, although e-racing365 understands that at least one feasibility study has already been undertaken by a vendor.
It’s unclear whether the ePrototypes could race alongside ETCR machinery in a single race.
IMSA previously revealed ambitions of sanctioning a U.S. version of the all-electric touring car series, which is set for an international debut next year by WSC Technology Ltd.
Atherton stressed that it’s still “early days” in the development of both projects.
“We haven’t gotten that far,” he said. “It would make sense to have multi-class racing, again, to be a further reflection of what IMSA’s platforms largely feature.”
A delegation of IMSA representatives are due to visit next month’s New York City E-Prix to gain first-hand experience of electric racing, as well as the operations within the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
“There’s a lot of fact-finding going on,” Atherton said.
“We’re always looking over the horizon and it was appropriate to make reference to it [during the IMSA Green announcement], for obvious reasons, so people understand that we aren’t sitting back and hitting rinse and repeat. That’s not how we operate.”
Atherton said he’s hoping IMSA could take the lead in EV racing on a “conventional motorsports platform” admitting that Formula E is “it’s own entity” in reference to its dramatically different product and fan experience.
“Given the realities of what’s happening and the pace of evolution [to electrification] that’s happening in the industry right now…
“[Last weekend at Detroit], we had two major OEM meetings, and I’m talking about mainstream OEMs, and they’re all saying the same thing.
“We’ve always wanted to be in a leadership role and that would be another example of that.”
It’s believed ePrototype or ETCR would not be ready any earlier than 2022, with Atherton indicating the finalization of its DPi 2.0 regulations being “priority one” before developing other potential racing platforms.