Ferrari presented a vettura laboratorio (experimental vehicle) at the 80th edition of the Geneva Auto Show based on the 599 GTB Fiorano equipped with an advanced new hybrid transmission.
Hybrid technology is one of the solutions examined by Ferrari in its on-going research and development into making its production cars more efficient. Experimenting with alternative technologies represents the company's long-term strategy after the announcement in 2007 of a five-year plan to reduce fuel consumption and emissions across the range.
With the launch of the Ferrari California (2008) and the 458 Italia (2009) Ferrari's average fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures have already been reduced by around 30 per cent compared to 2007.
The HY-KERS displayed at the Geneva Show is an example of how Ferrari is studying the application of hybrid technology to high-performance sports cars. Central to Ferrari's objectives is maintaining the balance, handling and performance characteristics typical of its cars despite the inevitable weight disadvantage of applying hybrid solutions to existing models.
To this end Ferrari employed its racing experience to adapt a lightweight hybrid drivetrain to the 599 GTB Fiorano with the aim of ensuring that dynamics are unaffected.
This was achieved by the careful integration of all system components, positioning them below the center of gravity and ensuring that interior and luggage space were unaffected.
Similarly, the flat lithium-ion batteries are positioned below the floorpan inside the aerodynamic underbody. The result is a center of gravity even lower than the standard car. In addition, part of the weight gained by fitting the electric motor, generator and the batteries is offset by being able to do away with the traditional starter motor and battery.
Ferrari has also applied its F1 technology to the design, engineering and construction of a new kind of electric motor, which also helps optimize the longitudinal and lateral dynamics of the car, enhancing traction and brake balance. The motor cuts-in during acceleration, providing instantaneous torque when moving away from a standstill and during overtaking maneuvers, with torque control a function of grip, gear and accelerator pedal angle. Depending on vehicle speed and engine load -in town driving, for example - the hybrid system can also function as a full-electric drivetrain. The result is a reduction in consumption and emissions. The motor also features a unique cooling and lubrication system for maximum efficiency under all operating temperatures and loads.
Weighing about 88 lb, the compact, tri-phase, high-voltage electric motor of the HY-KERS is coupled to the rear of the dual-clutch 7-speed F1 transmission. It operates through one of the transmission's two clutches and engages one of the two gearbox primary shafts. Thus power is coupled seamlessly and instantaneously between the electric motor and the V12. The electric motor produces more than 100hp, since Ferrari's goal was to offset every kilogram increase in weight by a gain of at least 1hp.
Under braking, the electric drive unit acts as a generator, using the kinetic energy from the negative torque generated to recharge the batteries. This phase is controlled by a dedicated electronics module which was developed applying experience gained in F1 and, as well as managing the power supply and recharging the batteries, the module also powers the engine's ancillaries (power steering, power-assisted brakes, air conditioning, on-board systems) via a generator mounted on the V12 engine when running 100 per cent under electric drive. It also incorporates the hybrid system's cooling pump.
In keeping with Ferrari's approach to efficiency and its commitment to environmental sustainability, new technologies for its road cars are matched by the considerable investments already made to reduce the environmental impact of the company's production activities in Maranello.
After the inauguration of the photovoltaic installation on the roof of the Mechanical Machining facility in January 2009, which reduced the factory's power requirements by over 210,000 kWh annually, 2009 also saw the opening of the trigeneration plant (the simultaneous production of power, heat and cooling from a single source) - the first of its kind to be implemented by a sports car manufacturer. This enabled Ferrari to reduce CO2 emissions by 15 per cent, with the goal of reaching a reduction of over 40 per cent by the end of 2010. Thanks to these ecological solutions, Ferrari is completely autonomous for its energy requirements.