I am extremely vocal on the topic of electric cars, especially when it comes to their performance potential. Instant torque is very, very fun—to say the least—and makes a lot more sense on the racing circuit than internal combustion engines (at least in short bursts). Makers of high-end exotics are starting to pick up on this trend, though Ferrari is (as far as I know) the first supercar maker to confirm it will be adding and electric-hybrid to its lineup.
Of course, they claim this is to improve handling and not fuel efficiency. But hey, I’ll take what I can get from the prancing horse.
Ferrari currently uses a hybrid electric drive system in its Formula One cars called KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery System. This system recaptures a chunk of otherwise wasted brake energy and converts it to electricity, powering an electric motor drive system that can deliver a 82 second horsepower “boost” for up to 6.6 seconds. This system allows Formula drivers to easier pass the competition, though adds 60 pounds to the extremely light car. The minimum weight allowed in Formula One is 600 kgs, or about 1,300 pounds. at the end of the race including driver and fuel. Anything lighter and you are disqualified.
This system will be replicated in street legal Ferraris, probably around 2014. The likely recipient of the hybrid drivetrain will be the front-engine 612 Scaglietti, a car already capable of reaching 196 MPH thanks to its 5.7 liter V12 engine. How much of an effect the hybrid all-wheel drive system will have on the 612 is anybody’s guess (currently it gets 10/15 MPG with a manual transmission). Will the KERS system remain basically untouched, acting as a torque dump of sorts and doing nothing for fuel efficiency? Or will Ferrari actually aim to improve their fuel mileage, while denying it up and down?
Either way, even the hybrid haters (me) have to admire a hybrid prancing horse.