In recent years, Hyundai Motors has been standing out in the world of motorsports. Hyundai was merely a rookie only a decade ago, but now it stands at the top of podiums across the world, such as WRC. Hyundai Motors established Hyundai Motorsport GmbH in Alzenau, Germany in 2012, and conquered WRC in the manufacturer category in the season 2019 and 2020 after its return in 2014.
Hyundai Motor does not stay in WRC. In 2018, it completed the i30 N TCR to meet the TCR regulations – a touring car race based on mass-produced cars, and the company started selling them to the racing teams. As a result, Hyundai Motor’s i30 N TCR became sensational in the world of TCR from its first season. BRC, a racing team that participated in the TCR international series WTCR, for instance, won the manufacturer’s and the driver’s championships at the same time using the i30 N TCR. Besides that, Hyundai also developed the Veloster N TCR for the TCR participants in North America. And since then, the i30 N TCR and the Veloster N TCR have earned the championship trophy in the TCR series across the countries, increasing the automaker’s reputation in the world of motorsports.
Hyundai announced its plan to go for PURE ETCR (Electric Touring Car Racing), a pure electric touring car race, while not settling for its success so far. This is why Hyundai keeps on challenging; it is to create a better future with better cars based on the technology it developed through motorsports, and now Hyundai is preparing for the next stage, PURE ETCR, beyond the conventional motorsport championships. Here’s what Hyundai is doing for its future in motorsports.
Implementing high-tech features through motorsports
The motorsports that Hyundai is participating in is a touring car race, which is based on mass-produced cars. While keeping the main structures such as the body size and chassis geometry of mass-produced cars, the participants change elements such as engines, drivetrains, and aerodynamic devices to meet each regulation of the race. Therefore, Hyundai’s mass-produced cars and race cars have so much in common. In other words, the team gets to develop race cars from its mass-produced cars, and implements the tech skills it grew during the races in the mass-produced cars again. This way, the automaker can perfect its products.
Speaking of which, Hyundai improved i20 for generations as the company participated in WRC for years. After developing the i20 coupe WRC rally car based on the first-generation i20 in the 2014 season, Hyundai was able to implement various technologies while perfecting their race cars over and over again. And using some of these technologies for the 2nd-generation i20, its basics and driving performance have been greatly improved. Hyundai then developed the next-generation i20 coupe WRC rally car for the 2017 season based on the upgraded 2nd-generation i20. And finally, with the latest rally cars, it proved its technological prowess by winning the WRC manufacturer’s championship for two consecutive seasons, in 2019 and 2020.
Through this process, Hyundai also developed the first high-performance models, i30 N and Veloster N. Hyundai’s high-performance N model is the essence of the company’s motorsports technologies accumulated through WRC and other races, and it features strong performance and durability. And here is more; the level of technological advances that Hyundai Motor achieved through motorsports is also shown in the third-generation i20, which was first showcased last year. The 3rd-generation i20, which has been further improved based on the technology of the next-generation i20 coupe WRC rally car, is followed by the i20 N, which was unveiled at the end of last year, proving that Hyundai is constantly implementing the motorsport technology in their products. However, such technology does not always lead directly to high-performance N models or mass-produced cars. The i20 N’s roof spoiler, inspired by the rally car, is not exactly the same as the i20 coupe WRC rally car. This is because there are limitations of using technology and parts of the rally car for mass-produced cars.
For this reason, Hyundai Motor Company has been operating Project RM since 2012, which tests its current technologies in order to implement them, narrowing the technological gap between racing cars and mass-produced ones. The world of motorsports is the stage for testing high-performance technology, and Project RM is the cradle, a ‘running laboratory’, that leads the company to the high-performance N models. Accordingly, the concept cars such as RM14, RM15, RM16, RM19, the outcomes of Project RM, verify various technologies such as powertrain, chassis, and aerodynamics developed through motorsports, before implementing them in their products.
The product lineup is largely classified into mass-produced cars, N-line, high-performance N, project RM concept cars, and motorsport race cars. The concept model of Project RM is between race cars and high-performance N models. In other words, the concept car of Project RM is a sports car with motorsports technology, and at the same time, a prototype of the high-performance N model. The technologies verified through Project RM are first applied to the high-performance N models, and later are reflected in the N line and mass-produced cars afterward, contributing to improving the entire lineup.
Hyundai embracing new challenges: Eco-Friendly Race, PURE ETCR
With meaningful achievements such as winning championships and implementing technologies, Hyundai is now embracing another challenge; that is, the pure electric touring car race called PURE ETCR, which is scheduled to begin on June 18th this year at the Ballerunga circuit in Italy. PURE ETCR was established to create the standard for electric vehicle races in the upcoming future and to accelerate the transition to a carbon-free world. The fact that Hyundai is participating in such races proves the company’s determination and capacity.
Hyundai Motor’s PURE ETCR challenge began with the electric race car Veloster N ETCR, which was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2019. The Veloster N ETCR, developed by Hyundai Motorsport GmbH in Alzenau, Germany, is based on the Veloster N, a mass-produced car, like the i20 coupe WRC rally car and i30 N TCR. Of course, unlike existing touring cars, there is a difference; it uses batteries and electric motors provided by WAE (Williams Advanced Engineering) – since all PURE ETCR participants must use them. As a result, the Veloster N ETCR, despite being a high-performance racing car, shows an eco-friendly nature with no emissions.
The Veloster N ETCR has an average power of 300kW (402 horsepower) and a maximum output of 500kW (680 horsepower) using a 65kW (800V) battery pack placed on the floor and an electric motor in the center of the vehicle to power the rear wheels. The powerful performance of the Veloster N ETCR was showcased through the first official circuit test and events organized by the automaker in last year’s PURE ETCR. In particular, the overwhelming performance of the Veloster N ETCR was well exhibited at the Aragon Circuit event in Spain, which highlights the start of the 2021 season of PURE ETCR. The Veloster N ETCR showed off the eco-friendly and powerful performance of the electric race car by overtaking i30 N TCR, which had excelled in several TCR championships, right after the race began.
Plans for future eco-friendly motorsports suggested by Hyundai Motor Company at PURE ETCR
The company’s efforts to create an eco-friendly world through participation in EV motorsports do not stay in the development of a racing car with zero-emission. – Along with the company’s electrification strategy, Hyundai has completed a hydrogen power generator that can charge the battery of an electric race car in an eco-friendly way, by using the latest hydrogen fuel cell technology.
The reason why the company’s efforts stand out is because of the current disadvantage of the charging system of electric race cars. The existing electric vehicle chargers for all EVs including electric race cars, use power generated from plants that use fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel. For this reason, the racing team’s efforts for zero-emission are minimized by the conventional power plants that emit carbon. On the other hand, the eco-friendly hydrogen power generator developed by Hyundai Motors generates electricity from hydrogen as a power source. So it does not create emissions, just like electric vehicles. In other words, Hyundai is suggesting the possibility to achieve perfect zero-emission in the entire EV ecosystem, from power generation and battery charging to power usage. This approach could provide sustainability that the entire automotive industry must achieve, including the world of motorsports.
Hyundai Motor’s hydrogen power generator, which offers eco-friendly charging, was created by combining two stacks of hydrogen fuel cells mounted in the Hyundai Nexo. The generator produces up to 160 kWh of electricity through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. This amount of power is enough to charge the battery of the Veloster N ETCR with a capacity of 65kW. Of course, the process is emission-free, and only clean water is discharged. In addition to being eco-friendly, Hyundai’s hydrogen power generator has a few other advantages. The biggest is that it is portable; therefore, it fits the nature of PURE ETCR, during which the participants need to travel around the venues all over the world each season. In addition, the generator can charge two electric race cars at the same time with its sufficient capacity. While offering fast-charging, it generates much less noise compared to existing diesel generators.
As such, Hyundai Motor Company has top-notch electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell technology. Yet, the company plans to further improve them while participating in PURE ETCR. Of course, the various technologies that will be accumulated in this process will be implemented in both regular and high-performance eco-friendly models, just as the company developed the internal combustion engines through the conventional races.
As above, Hyundai is pouring its heart to create a better future and develop sustainable means of transportation through its experiences in motorsports. Until now, we could see its effort through WRC and TCR, but from now on the automaker will proceed through electric car races such as PURE ETCR. PURE ETCR is a great example of how futuristic high-performance technology and sustainability can be combined. This is why Hyundai Motor Company cannot be satisfied with its success in conventional motorsports, and now is facing new challenges such as PURE ETCR. Hyundai Motor Company is working on creating a cleaner world and a new means of transportation that we need.