Hyundai is ready to join in on some electrified door-to-door touring car racing

Hyundai is one of the top players in the TCR category of touring car racing. The most popular category in the world of tin tops can be seen in action almost anywhere in the world, including Stateside, and now an electric series seems more tangible than ever. Hyundai released the Veloster N E-TCR to go alongside Cupra’s E-TCR racer. The Hyundai features four electric motors, all in the back, and a 65-kWh battery package.

The world of electric racing gets busier and busier with more and more series being launched every other month. Formula E first took the world by storm with its identical-looking electric single-seaters and now others are following suit. The people behind the most popular touring car class of the past few years aren’t resting on the laurels of its success and, instead, are planning ahead and prepare for an eco future with the Electric TCR series that’s bound to debut soon and Hyundai will be on the grid with the Veloster EV racer that could peak at over 650 horsepower.

Exterior

  • Aggressive aero kit
  • Huge flared fenders at both ends
  • Front grilles bigger than on standard Veloster TCR
  • Front flares extend around the nose
  • Rocker panels feature ducting in front of rear wheels
  • Tall wing connects to rear lid
  • Hyundai logos on vertical element of side skirts
  • Grand openings in the rear flares to let air out
  • Better looking than the Cupra E-TCR
2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
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Some ten years ago, the paddock of the American Le Mans Series welcomed the arrival of the first hybrid prototype, a Ginetta-Zytek powered by an E10-fueled internal combustion engine and a three-phase induction electric motor. The electric motor, that was powered by a lithium-ion battery as well as a KERS system, didn’t do much in helping boost the already impressive 625 horsepower output of the ICE but it helped in power delivery. At the time, some saw it as a bit of an oddity. Remember, it would be another three years before Audi introduced its E-Tron hybrid prototypes in the LMP1 class of the World Endurance Championship.

Now, however, hybrid racers are no longer looked upon as useless PR stunts for companies that develop batteries and similarly relevant equipment.

They once had a dedicated class in that same World Endurance Championship and, now, the world’s buzzing about the first fully electrified racing series that have emerged: the FIA Formula E and its sideshow, the Jaguar I-Pace e-Trophy.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
- image 868661

While the former has matured and is now one of the world’s most popular globe-trotting championships with factory-backed involvement from many of the world’s top automakers, Jaguar’s single-make series for the I-Pace SUV is yet to catch the imagination of either race-goers or teams. However, the incentive is very much there to kickstart more EV-based series in today’s world that’s all about reducing carbon emissions, a by-product of utilizing ICE-powered transportation. As such, we’ll soon see an EV spin-off of the TCR regulations known as E-TCR that could become, given a few years, as popular as its gas-guzzling brother.

Now, before we delve deeper into the matter, let's take a quick trip down memory lane to discuss the roots of TCR.

The story of this class of touring cars aimed at compact sedans and hatchbacks begins in 2014, at a time when the World Touring Car Championship sanctioned by the FIA was going through a complicated period. The once glorious series, back in the days of the S2000 regulations, now featured dwindling grids and unattractive races, as well as sky-high costs for parties interested in partaking in the top-of-the-line TC1 category. This was the category that should’ve been flocked by Works teams as the costs of building and running TC1 cars were high. As such, privateers instead focused on running grandfathered S2000 machinery in the TC2 class and the championship’s future was bleak. Then Citroen started dominating and Jose-Maria Lopez racked up world title after world title.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
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Former World Touring Car Championship manager Marcello Lotti came to the rescue proposing a new, more cost-effective set of rules called TCR (Touring Car Racing). The TCR-spec cars would initially race in a similarly global series like the WTCC known as the International TCR Series. Things went so well that, at the tail end of 2017, the FIA’s World Motorsport Council announced that the series would merge with World Touring Car Championship and European Touring Car Cup starting in 2018. This meant, effectively, that the TCR cars became the top-level touring cars in FIA-sanctioned competition and beyond.

To keep costs down, all cars were. at first, supposed to run spec parts like the splitter in the front and the rear wing, as well as 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engines.

This, however, is no longer the case with a variety of engines currently powering TCR cars. The International TCR Series was replaced by the WTCC’s own replacement called the World TCR Cup or the FIA World Touring Car Cup. TCR-spec cars can also be seen in action in a variety of national series such as TCR Asia, TCR Middle-East, TCR Germany, TCR Benelux, and others. Stateside, TCR cars are also eligible to run in a number of pro-level championships such as the IMSA-sanctioned Michelin Pilot Challenge and the SRO’s TC America.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
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The first E-TCR season should commence sometime next year, depending on how much interest WSC (World Sporting Consulting, the promoter of TCR and, also, through its WSC Technologies subsidiary, one of the key parts suppliers of the new series) can garner around the eco-friendly championship for RWD tin-tops. Thus far, only Hyundai and CUPRA (the sporty division of Seat) has begun testing of E-TCR cars although Honda is also keen to take part.

The Hyundai Veloster E-TCR looks almost identical to the Veloster TCR, both race-going brethren of the Veloster N. While the two differ in some key areas such as the front fascia, overall, Hyundai kept the body kit intact for the EV although everything underneath the skin is different.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
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In the front, the Hyundai features a gaping mouth that's narrower at the bottom and gets wider towards the top of the fascia.

The edges of the bodywork around the lower parts of the main grille protrude forwards, creating creases that underline the chiseled nature of the nose. Similarly, the fender flares continue around the front via narrowing ridges that come to an end on either side of the grille in its narrowest region. The intricate surfacing of the Veloster’s nose is done so to aid the circulation of air around the splitter and over and around the front fenders.

The swooping headlights are placed just below the line of the hood which is fitted with a pair of grilles. When you look at the Veloster from the side, you can truly appreciate just how much the flares extend away from the line of the doors. The edge of the side skirts sports a vertical winglet that is just wide enough for a Hyundai decal. Since the prototype was unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show, the rocker panels have been augmented by the addition of some rounded openings below some triangular holes made in the rear flares, in front of the rear wheel arches. This extra ducting was probably added in order to direct more air to cool the rear brakes.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
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The road-going Veloster N is a five-door hatchback and, although the rear doors are not in use on the racing car, you can still see the outline of the rear doors and the handle up in the corner, where you’d otherwise find the rear quarter windows. The i30 N TCR, Hyundai’s other TCR car, is also a five-door car. Hyundai also built a Veloster-based TCR car to cater for the American market where the i30 N is not available.

The 18-inch wheels benefit from continuous airflow as the back end of both the front and the rear flares is effectively open.

Another thing you’ll spot upon closer inspection is that the roof spoiler of the production car is kept in place despite the fact that the race car’s downforce in the back is mainly generated by the diffuser and that tall rear wing supported by a pair of struts connected to the trunk lid.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR exterior dimensions
Length: 181.1 in
Width: 77.55 in
Wheelbase: 106.3 in

Interior

  • Covered in exposed carbon fiber
  • Safety nets keep driver safe
  • Single bucket seat inside
  • Four-point harnesses keep you in place
  • Digital display attached to steering column
  • Dash is thus an empty piece of plastic
  • Seating position towards the middle of the car
2019 Hyundai Veloster N Interior
- image 761348

The interior of the Veloster E-TCR is simple as it should be since we’re talking about a race car. All of the insulation on the road car is gone and, in fact, just about anything that you’d find in a Veloster N you’d fail to locate inside its race-going sibling. Even the dash is no more. Well, there is a dash mold in place to hide wiring loops and whatnot but the dash is devoid of any dials or knobs.

Everything you need to know is displayed to you via the digital display strapped to the extra-long steering column.

You can shift through its many displays via the steering wheel that is, in pure race car fashion, covered in buttons and knobs. You can adjust the brake bias, engage the wipers, and operate the in-car radio, all without moving your fingers away from the wheel. There are, of course, other controls located on the center console but the most important bits are on the wheel, including the knob that gives you full boost (we’ll talk more about that in the Drivetrain section).

2019 Hyundai Veloster N Interior
- image 761356

The driver’s seat - a FIA-compliant bucket with five-point harnesses - is pushed a long way back in the cabin for better weight distribution. The seating position, however, is still upright. Inside a DTM car, for instance, the driver sits effectively in the middle of the cockpit and his feet go up, like in a single-seater. A TCR-spec car is much closer to a road-going model in this regard although it’s still a serious racing car that cannot be driven on the open road.

Drivetrain

  • Hyundai’s first electric racing car
  • Power to rear wheels only
  • Powered by four electric motors, two per wheel
  • 65-kWh, 800-volt battery pack
  • Sounds a bit like a jet car
  • Potentially as quick as standard Veloster TCR
  • Veloster TCR puts out 350 horsepower
  • Cupra E-TCR puts out 402 horsepower continual power, peak at 670 horsepower
2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
- image 868663
The ethos of the TCR series will be carried over to the new-for-2020 E-TCR championship.

This means that a variety of cost-cutting measures will be enforced and this includes the fact that each car will run with a number of mandated components that will be developed by a single parts provider and will not be toyed with by the manufacturers. This keeps running costs down but also minimizes the ability of a manufacturer to innovate. In Formula E, the approach is different: the aerodynamics are mandated in that all cars run with identical bodyworks, but much of the drivetrain is developed by the manufacturers, allowing each company to flex its muscles and show its prowess in developing the electric motors, gearboxes, and other key components.

The WSC hand-picked Magelec Propulsion is to provide the inverter, motor, and gearbox for all E-TCR cars entered in the series. Magelec is a company that’s also been involved in Formula E since that formula’s inception back in 2014. It supplied motors and inverters to the NextEV Formula E team until 2017. It’s understood that, in the future, more areas of development within the drivetrain will be unlocked for the manufacturers. In spite of the prospect, some automakers have already decided to not get involved in E-TCR, Audi and Ford being among those that argued FE is a better arena to showcase cutting-edge tech.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
- image 868664
As per the E-TCR regulations, each car will be powered by a 65-kWh, 800-volt battery pack.

It’s also stated in the rules that a car’s electric motors can’t develop more than 300 kW of continuous power and 500 kW of maximum power at 12,000 rpm. While Hyundai Motorsport is yet to release the full spec sheet of the Veloster E-TCR, CUPRA’s own E-racer is known to come with as much power as allowed by the rules, in other words, 402.7 horsepower at any time and up to 670 horsepower on full boost (similar, probably, to the push-to-pass system utilized in Formula E).

Performance figures are, likewise, unknown with Hyundai being in the midst of the Veloster’s testing program, but the CUPRA goes from zero to 62 mph in 3.2 seconds and on to 125 mph in 8.2 seconds. The Spanish touring car’s battery with 6,072 cells will be identical to that on the Hyundai since the batteries all come from a single source: Williams Advanced Engineering. The Hyundai tips the scales at almost 3,750 pounds.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
- image 868667

We discussed back in September when Hyundai unveiled its first electric race car the likelihood of Rimac’s involvement in the development of some drivetrain components considering that both Hyundai and Kia invested in the company. But, now that we know how many parts will be shared across the board by all of the cars entered in E-TCR, it’s unlikely that Rimac offered a hand in the development of Hyundai Motorsport’s latest family member.

Suspension on the RWD (the four electric motors are strapped to the rear axle only, two at each wheel) Veloster is by MacPherson struts with coil springs, and gas-filled dampers in the front, and double wishbones with coils, and gas-filled dampers in the back. T

he MacPherson/double-wishbone arrangement is inscribed in the rulebook as well so you can’t have wishbones in the front even if you wanted to for whatever reason. The gearbox features a single-gear ratio. Braking is by ventilated discs all around with a dual-circuit hydraulic system. Front rotors measure 14.96 inches in diameter and are slowed down by six-piston calipers. In the back, you’ll find 13.97-inch rotors with four-piston calipers.

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR specifications
Engine mid-mounted electric motors, two for each of the rear wheels
Power 402.7 horsepower of continuous power and as much as 670 horsepower at 12,000 rpm of max power
Gearbox single-gear ratio
Suspension McPherson strut, coil springs, gas-filled dampers, and anti-roll bar in the front and double wishbone, coil springs, gas-filled dampers in the back
Brakes 14.96-inch brake discs with six-piston calipers in the front and 13.97-inch brake discs with four-piston calipers in the back served by a dual-circuit hydraulic system
Steering rack-and-pinion with electrical power steering
0-60 mph  3 seconds
0-125 mph  8.5 seconds
Top speed  167
Range  40 km (25 mi) at full speed
Weight 3,747 pounds

Competition

2020 Cupra E-TCR

2018 CUPRA e-Racer Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 771712
It’s based on the Seat Leon

CUPRA is the only manufacturer that has committed to the upcoming E-TCR championship. In fact, CUPRA was the first company to launch an all-electric touring car that first ran on track exactly one year ago at the launch event of the E-TCR championship. This new breed of touring cars is impressive due to its powerful motors but range may be an issue. Currently, TCR series race weekends around the globe, including the World Touring Car Cup, comprised of two or three races that last anywhere between 25 and 50 minutes. We may see shorter racers at first in the E-TCR series (let’s not forget that it was only this year that bigger batteries able to last an entire race of about 55 miles were introduced in Formula E).

The CUPRA has already been tested by none other than ex-Audi DTM star Mattias Ekstrom.

“It felt really good, especially when reaching full power coming out of the slow corners on the circuit,” Ekstrom said of his time behind the wheel of the CUPRA E-TCR around Spain’s Barcelona-Catalunya track.

"I really enjoyed the first lap. The second also went well, although I began to notice that I was forcing the rear tires." Excessive tire wear could be an issue given that an electric TCR car is about 881 pounds heavier than an ICE-powered one. Then again, the gas-guzzling examples put out no more than 350 horsepower.

With limited testing performed by both automakers, it’s hard to say which car is more competitive but they’re both new, despite sharing design cues with their existing TCR siblings. We will find an answer to this difficult question sometime next year (the calendar is as of yet unknown) but, for now, let’s just say that we hope more cars will join the gird as well as more top-level drivers to match Mattias Ekstrom!

Read our full review on the 2020 Cupra E-TCR

Final Thoughts

2020 Hyundai Veloster N ETCR Exterior
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The fact that more and more racing series are established with the scope of championing electric technology can only make us happy. If we can also get some good racing out of the equation then it’s that much sweeter although we should keep our expectations in check for the first couple of seasons of the E-TCR championship. Just like Jaguar’s I-Pace e-Trophy, it’ll be a while until it gains some momentum. Let’s also not forget that some series never even got off the ground, for instance, the Electric GT Championship that was supposed to pit identically prepared Tesla Model S race cars against one another beginning last year but we’re yet to see one Tesla-only race unfold as of October 2019.

  • Leave it
    • Expensive to buy and operate
    • The whole concept is new and there aren’t any places to race it yet
    • Not much in the way of innovation with this cost-capped platform

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