Following in the footsteps of Formula One and the top tier of Le Mans, every car in the World Rally Championship (WRC) will be a powered a petrol-electric hybrid engine from the year 2022. The new ruling comes alongside other new regulations surrounding bodywork, tyres and the potential return of C segment WRC cars.
To begin with, hybrid power across the field will come from a common power unit that shares components and software, allowing for a level playing field whilst the teams get used to the switch. After three years of the new rules, the teams will be given more freedom when it comes to the power unit and the software surrounding it.
The first raft of hybrid rally cars will feature both ‘electric power boost’ and ‘pure electric’ modes depending on where they’re competing; the former being used on special stages and the latter whilst competing in city centres.
The ability to drive in fully electric mode in cities will hopefully mean that more-and-more cities can be added to the WRC calendar.
Talking of the changes, the FIA mentioned that 2025 might see the second stage of hybridisation, bringing with it the chance for cars to utilise energy harvesting for additional power, like we see in Formula One cars. Both this and the amount of technical freedom afforded to teams in 2025 will depend entirely on the success of the initial years.
Excitingly, the addition of hybrid power to the WRC should mean that we see a vast improvement in the hybrid technology used in small hatchbacks and, ultimately, a reduction in the cost of creating hybrid vehicles. The lower cost of hybrid technology should subsequently be passed on to consumers, making going electric ever more accessible.
As well as the hybridisation announcement, the FIA have also said that all WRC cars will have revised bodywork rules from 2022, with all competitors required to use either their production bodyshell or a tubular spaceframe chassis with a shell that features bits from the standard road car (lights, doors, etc) placed on top.
Much like the upcoming changes to the LMP1 class of Le Mans, this revision will aim to make the cars competing more like the cars that you can actually purchase and less like one-off special creations.