This Honda CR-V offers an exclusive look into IndyCar’s future

By Colin Wood
Feb 28, 2023 | Honda, HPD, cr-v, indycar, Honda Performance Development, CR-V Hybrid, HART, Honda of America Racing Team

Photography Courtesy Honda

Although the all-new IndyCar hybrid powertrains don’t officially debut until 2024, Honda is offering fans and enthusiasts alike a sneak peek of the new units…with a CR-V. Yes, seriously.

This project vehicle is an INDYCAR ‘beast’ in Honda CR-V ‘sheep’s clothing’,” said David Salters, president and technical director for Honda Performance Development, the North American racing arm of American Honda and Acura. “The CR-V Hybrid Racer is our ‘rolling electrified laboratory’, to investigate where the talented men and women of HPD and Honda could go with electrification, hybrid technology and 100% renewable fuels.  It epitomizes Honda’s fun-to-drive ethos, showcases electrification and it just rocks our car culture roots and racing heritage!  We present the CR-V Hybrid Racer – aka ‘The HPD Beast’!”

Designed at HPD in California in collaboration with designers from the North America Auto Design Division of Honda America, the CR-V Hybrid Racer was built at Honda’s Automotive Development Center in Ohio by the folks from the Honda of America Racing Team.

Powering the CR-V is a 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged, electrified V6 engine that features Skeleton Supercapacitors and Empel MGU hybrid motor technology. The power unit also runs on Shell’s 100% renewable race fuel. (Power figures aren’t included in the press release, but, for comparison, current IndyCar engines are good for some 700 horsepower.)

Finishing off the wild racer is a unique wrap designed by Honda senior exterior designer Lili Melikian: “The graphics were inspired by the hybrid powertrain, radiating from Honda Hybrid Blue to Honda Racing Red to symbolize the duality of the drivetrain. While the ‘speed squirkles’ add a dynamic fun layer and showcase the playful side of Power of Dreams. Throughout the wrap, we have also sprinkled easter eggs like ghosted outlines of Honda-sponsored tracks and an overhead view of the engine that powers the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer.”

Look for the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer at its public debut at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Florida, March 3-5. After that, the CR-V will be on display–plus making on-track demonstrations–at various IndyCar race weekends and “additional appearances at select events” throughout 2023.

Specifications for the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer are as follows:


  • Honda HI23TT 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine
  • Borg Warner EFR7163 turbochargers
  • McLaren Applied Technologies Tag 400i Engine Control Unit
  • Drive-by-wire controlled port throttle
  • Shell 100% renewable race fuel
  • Driver-activated Empel electric motor generator unit
  • Skeleton super capacitor energy storage system
  • XTRAC six-speed transmission; Mega-Line Assisted paddle-shift

Chassis and Bodywork

  • Chromoly tube frame chassis
  • New, 6th generation Honda CR-V Hybrid bodywork from beltline up
  • Standard Honda CR-V Hybrid windshield and greenhouse
  • Custom carbon fiber lower bodywork incorporating flared fenders
  • Butterfly half-cut doors provide access for driver and passenger
  • Radiator adapted by HPD from the Dallara IR-18 Indy car
  • Clamshell rear bodywork to display power unit and drivetrain
  • Custom downforce-producing front splitter and rear wing


  • Front suspension from HPD-developed Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22
  • Rear suspension adapted from Dallara IR-18 Indy car
  • Brembo 380mm front brakes from Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22
  • Brembo 355mm custom rear brakes adapted to Dallara IR-18 suspension
  • Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 Ultra-High Performance Summer Tires
  • Front tires 285/35-20; Rear tires a massive 305/35-20
  • 2Elle Engineering 20x10.5 Front and 20x11 Rear two-piece alloy wheels
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View comments on the GRM forums
Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
2/28/23 12:11 p.m.

I'll also use this as an excuse to share one of my favorite songs:


bumpsteer New Reader
2/28/23 1:11 p.m.

Indy500s on the Indy-powered CR-V?

RacerBoy75 Reader
2/28/23 8:07 p.m.

I just had a new CR-V Hybrid as a rental car, but it didn't look anything like the one pictured.

former520 HalfDork
2/28/23 9:32 p.m.

Larry Chen just dropped a video on it with the project lead at a track complete with ride along.

It looks like just to commuter I need.  Very cool build.

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UberDork
2/28/23 9:43 p.m.

I love it when manufacturers turn engineers loose on stuff like this. Reminds me of the Supervan Transits 

gearheadE30 Dork
3/1/23 8:33 a.m.

Good job whoever designed the livery, too.

However, the X5 Le Mans is still my favorite:


Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/1/23 8:55 a.m.

I'm disappointed that they didn't use a CVT, since Honda seems to think that it's the answer to everything automotive these days.

(^Says the guy who, reluctantly, placed a deposit on a new CRV two months ago, in spite of its continuously variable transmission)

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