LMP1 Hybrids to Utilize Spec Plug-In Technology

Photo: Toyota

FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu expects overall budgets in the LMP1 Hybrid class to be slashed under the newly announced 2020 regulations, revealing that the plug-in hybrid technology will be a single specification among all manufacturers.

The ACO and the FIA announced the planned regulations for 2020, ahead of last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, placing a great focus on cost reduction and electrification.

Under the new regs, hybrid-powered cars will be required to complete the first kilometer after each pit stop under full electric power, as well as crossing the line to finish the race in the same manner.

While measures such as cutting the number of staff members at races, limiting wind tunnel time and focusing on collective testing leads to reduced costs, the announcement of a new plug-in hybrid system appeared to counteract that by adding a greater expense for manufacturers.

However, when asked about the forthcoming regulations at the FIA Sport Conference in Geneva on Wednesday, Neveu said he believes that common technology will be used between manufacturers for the plug-in hybrid system, in order to keep costs at a minimum.

“They did not go into details to explain to people [at the ACO Press Conference], but what I understood is that the budget will be reduced [a lot] compared with the current budget, because they will share, for example, all the e-plugging system on the pit lane,” Neveu told Sportscar365.

“They will be the same. No R&D on this part. Common technology.

“And what I understood also is that if we continue without hybrid, it’s totally stupid because it’s nothing to do with what’s happening on the streets.

“I think it’s a good compromise. We are not in 2020 [yet], so they will still continue to discuss in details. They will improve more and more and more.

“But that is the probably the right direction: a compromise between costs that we have to reduce drastically, definitely, and at the same time, find a way to keep a technology exposure on this stage.”

Neveu said determining the basis of the regulations between all of the interested parties, including the FIA, ACO and manufacturers both currently inside and outside of the class, has been a compromise.

“It was a very difficult exercise for the FIA and ACO to find the right way. The process they have used to do it is quite interesting,” he said.

“Never forget that this is a permanent consultation with the manufacturers involved or the potential manufacturers rejoining the championship.

“We knew since the beginning that the first point, absolutely the first one, was to reduce the cost of this technology in this category due to the economic situation around the world, which is very easy to understand.

“On the other hand, and at the same time, all the manufacturers say that you should cancel all the notion of… high technology on this category. [But] it does not make sense, because it has always been in the DNA of Le Mans and sports cars, because there is a direct link with a relevant car.

“Never forget that manufacturers, they are not here just to race. The first thing they have to do is sell cars. That’s their target. I would say that I think these new regulations are a good compromise.”

Neveu’s belief that budgets will drop in LMP1 comes at a time when Porsche is rumored to be considering its future in the category, potentially leaving only Toyota to race on in the WEC’s premier class.

The ACO’s push to bring in a third manufacturer to make up for Audi’s shock exit at the end of last year is yet to bear fruit, with Peugeot showing few signs of rejoining the LMP1 ranks, and no earlier than 2020 if it does materialize.

20 Comments

  1. Helgi

    June 22, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Wait a minute. The whole hybrid unit to be spec or only a plug-in part? Nevertheless, what the reason to use a spec unit in a works category? They try to be road-relevant? It’s useless. They already have 4 wheels, a ICU, a KERS and a badge on the nose cone. I do not understand a will to make cars even more complex but with spec units. There’s no sense in it.

    • John Dagys

      June 22, 2017 at 9:27 am

      Just the plug-in part, not the entire hybrid powertrain

  2. wcd

    June 22, 2017 at 9:21 am

    This spec component idea just strengthens my belief that this plug-in and especially mandatory EV mode only driving (1km after pitstop and before finish, whatever that means) is nothing but a marketing gimmick. Pretty depressing if this was the best idea the manufacturers could come up with.

    • AudiTT

      June 22, 2017 at 10:40 am

      The plug-in needs to be the same for every team like refueling rigs. Development comes about from storing and deploying that charge. Think of it like an industrial USB connection.

      The mandatory 1km EV mode needs to be completed at LMP2 pace. The requirement to be running in EV at the finish, incentivises teams to develop a reliable system.

    • TF110

      June 22, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Who said the manufacturer’s came up with the idea? By their comments, they seem surprised at it, so it probably wasn’t their idea but something that the ACO/FIA thought would be appealing to them(?)

      • AudiTT

        June 22, 2017 at 4:10 pm

        Endurance Commission which includes the manufacturers, current, and interested parties, like Peugeot and BMW.

      • wcd

        June 23, 2017 at 7:35 am

        …in part they came up with the idea. ACO usually bends over and gives them what they want, no?

        Seidl: “… the discussion was not just between Porsche, Toyota and Peugeot, the ACO and FIA had other manufacturers involved as well in the discussion. I think there was a huge agreement between all of us on a lot of topics. I think we have everything we want on the table.”

        http://www.dailysportscar.com/2017/06/16/seidl-on-the-2020-lmp1-regulations.html

        • TF110

          June 23, 2017 at 11:18 pm

          Everything they want sure. But both Toyota and Porsche were surprised about the 1km on electric only. That requires a redesign of their hybrid units, specifically the battery output/type.

          • wcd

            June 24, 2017 at 1:31 am

            Only comments I’ve seen is those from Seidl, and he doesn’t specifically refer to the EV gimmicks. Where did Toyota comment this in public?

  3. EgoBoost

    June 22, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Gimmicks.

  4. Sir Skidsalot

    June 22, 2017 at 10:59 am

    I Hate Hybrids, especially every time the silent motherfaulkers almost run me over.

  5. Anonymous

    June 22, 2017 at 11:49 am

    I wonder if Mitsubishi might consider an LMP1-H entry in 2020, they love marketing their cars as “Plug In Hybrid” vehicles.

    I wonder who they’ll get to build these spec “Plug In” systems? McLaren? Tesla?

  6. N8

    June 22, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Like Formula E, I don’t see how this promotes pure electric or plug-in technology. A car gets a full charge that takes it 5/8 of a mile?!?!? Pft. It’s arguably more ludicrous than needing 2 cars to do complete an all electric race. Who looks at these examples and thinks, “oh wow, electric cars have come a long way”?

  7. Daniel Tripp

    June 22, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    For the life of me I cannot get the slightest bit excited about this hybrid racing thing. It’s the future of cars, I get it. I guess I’m just an old fart.

    • Matt

      June 22, 2017 at 10:29 pm

      It’s literally just a gimmick and is not the future of cars… manufacturers want people to believe this so they can sell them something new. Plug-in hybrids are the worst possible thing in regards to the environment. You’re charging your car using power produced by a power plant that’s burning fossil fuel. Harvesting the materials for the batteries requires a process of environmentally damaging strip mining, and batteries are also very toxic so disposal is a big problem. It’s incredible how many people the industry has brainwashed into thinking this is the way forward. Looks like they got Neveu too.

      • Parker

        June 23, 2017 at 8:35 am

        Spot on.

      • GR88

        June 23, 2017 at 7:13 pm

        Hybrid and electric is the future of road and race cars. Just like a few years back manufacturers moved on mass to turbo engined cars.

        The great majority of power generation in the coming years will be from renewable sources. Not because it’s ‘hip to be green’, but because this technology is increasingly cost effective and efficient. Significant parts of the UK power supply is now provided by renewable means, and us increasing on a yearly basis.

        As a technology enthusiast, this is the most exciting time for the automotive and motorsport industry for decades.

  8. Dental Floss

    June 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    I fail to see how a common “plug-in” will significantly reduce costs. Were they expecting OEMs all to use radically different plug-ins to meet the charging requirements?

    Battery tech would likely dictate the maximum rate of charge achievable so the OEM ‘solutions’ to this aspect of the cars would likely be similar in any case. In the unlikely event – and I’m not an electrical engineer – that highly variable rates of charging could be expected due to clever engineering, then you could expect the ACO/FIA to regulate or meter it as with petrol fuel flow.

    Given the foregoing, someone tell me please what great cost advantages will be arrived at with a ‘common plug-in’?

    Could someone please tell me further why the relative handful of chickens who actually watch WEC (and surely prospective fans) would care in any case? “Say Fred, did you see that Porsche charge up its Lion battery? It was thrilling!”

    Perhaps Mr. Dagys could venture an opinion. Perhaps you may or may not know, John, whether there’s been any ACO/FIA discussion of alternative liquid fuels (bio/solar, etc)?

    Meanwhile, I await the ACO/FIA’s 2020 Reg cost reduction projections with baited breath… or a nap.

  9. Doug

    June 23, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Uh…Plugin tech for race cars? When would they use it? Certainly not during the race. In order to “Fuel up” with Electric via plug, the voltages and amps would have to be SKY HIGH. The danger of re-charging during the race (assuming they are not going to sit in their garage for 3 hours) is WAY more than using fuel.

    • GR88

      June 23, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      The plug-in tech will be used at every pitstop.

      Quick plug-in technology needs to be as quick as refuelling a car for it to have mass adoption in road cars.

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