The FIA World Rallycross Championship is set to migrate to fully-electric cars in the headline Supercar class by 2020, according to Motorsport, each competing car based on a common chassis kit with a standard carbon-fiber monocoque, safety structure, suspension, and brakes. Electric drive motors and composite body shells will not be standardized, leaving each team free to source or develop their own styling, aerodynamics, and propulsion systems.
“Electric cars will be the world championship,” a source told Motorsport. “They absolutely, categorically will be the world championship.”
The changes could provide a compelling reason for General Motors to launch a factory-backed World Rallycross effort as the automaker attempts to demonstrate that it can lead in the EV space. Last October, GM CEO Mary Barra announced the company’s ambitious plans to introduce 20 new pure-electric vehicles by 2023, two of which are planned for introduction within the next 14 months. Naming and styling a World Rallycross contender after one of those vehicles could provide some effective advertising, and might help engineers to perfect GM’s electric propulsion systems.
What’s more, basing each competition car a common chassis kit could keep the cost of development relatively low.
The problem, of course, is that rallycross isn’t nearly as popular in the US as it is in Europe, and GM has little reason to advertise to Europeans as it recently scaled back its business in the market as much as possible shy of a full exit; the automaker sold off its Opel and Vauxhall brands to French carmaker Peugot last year.
Ford, when it took a stab at the World Rallycross Championship with Hoonigan Racing Division from 2016 through 2017, attempted to bridge the pond and land an American audience by offering free webcasts in the US of some of the events. The automaker called it quits after the 2017 season as the car homologation requirements were set to change, and it couldn’t justify the expense of developing a new car (per Ford Authority).