Ferrari Builds a Hybrid
The Prancing Horse does a complete turn-around about gas-electric drivetrains, turning out a hybrid 599.
It seems the Green Party has finally tamed the house of the Prancing Horse in Maranello, Italy. It wasn't so long ago that Ferrari railed against the idea of putting a hybrid drivetrain in one of its mechanical creations. It just didn't see the need. But taking center stage in the Italian Stallion's stable here at the Geneva Motor Show is a 599 GTB Fiorano clad in the most shocking shade of green and equipped with a prototype hybrid powertrain. Did Ferrari do it for humanitarian reasons or was it pulled into the eco-age kicking and screaming by overzealous legislators? Who cares! The car is cool.
So how do you make a Ferrari eco-friendly? The only way the company knows how: by taking technology honed on the racetrack and bringing it to the road. In this case, Ferrari chose to employ the controversial KERs technology seen in last year's F1 cars.
While the Hy-KERS does represent a big first step towards a more efficient future for Ferrari, it is purely experimental at this point. The system consists of an electric motor squeezed into the rear-mounted dual-clutch gearbox and a slim lithium-ion battery pack placed in the aerodynamically tuned flat underside of the 599. The whole system adds around 150 pounds to the vehicle, and is mounted as low as possible for improved weight distribution. It also means there's no need for heavy cooling systems as the air flow alone will keep the batteries at a safe temperature.
While the system can power the 599 on electricity alone, Ferrari says that isn't the point of this exercise. It's not looking to make a rival to the Toyota Prius. What the Hy-KERS system does is help future Ferraris meet stringent new emissions and fuel-efficiency targets.
It also makes it 0.6 of a second faster going from zero to 125 mph than the standard 599, with the electric motor fully integrated into the gearbox and working with sophisticated traction-control systems developed from F1.
The system is still some way from production reality but will work in both front- and midengine cars. In the meantime, the California will gain start-stop tech in the first of several steps to a new, greener future for the Prancing Horse.