ELECTRICITY is shaping as the next battlefield for supercars from Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren.
Details about the high-voltage future for the world’s top supercar makers came out at the Geneva motor show in March.
Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne revealed that “it’s inevitable” future Ferraris will ditch conventional drivetrains for hybrid power to improve efficiency and performance. Currently Ferrari has only one hybrid model in its stable – the La Ferrari, which combines a 6.3-litre V12 with a 120kW electric motor for a combined 708kW and 900Nm.
“I think it’s inevitable that Ferrari will have to go hybrid at some stage,” Marchionne told Wheels.
“Apart from the fact that it’s going to continue to be a mainstay of shap s world Marc in co hybri efficienc Curren Fe mo an inevita Formula One, it’s something that both Mercedes and ourselves consider to be crucial to the development of the sport.”
That know-how is working its way into the production car side of things. Marchionne said the success of La Ferrari proves that performance hybrids have a future. His comments also follow recent reports that Ferrari has filed a patent for a new modular architecture to underpin future hybrid models.
“If you’ve driven that car [La Ferrari], you will realise that over the past 10 years we have gone through a quantum leap in technology, a lot of which is attributable to the ability to combine electrification with combustion,” he said.
“Hybrid technology has the added benefit of making cars greener, but fundamentally it’s also designed to improve performance of the vehicle and take it to another level of performance.”
The first mainstream Ferrari to get hybrid power is expected to be the replacement for the F12, due as early as next year. As part of the strategy to use hybrid to boost the performance of the V12s – leaving turbos to boost the V8s – Ferrari will take its hybrid learnings and create a new powerplant that ups performance from the 574kW/705Nm of the existing track-focused F12 tdf.
That drivetrain will form the basis for what’s under the bonnet of the GT4 Lusso replacement (itself a heavy update of the FF), although in true Ferrari style expect various tunes. upd F tun
Ferrari has no plans to move further down the electrification path and build an all-electric model to rival the likes of the upcoming Porsche Mission E.
“With Ferrari, sound is an integral part of the machine,” said Ferrari chief Sergio Marchionne.
“Last time I drove a Tesla, unless I turned on the radio I knew ‘this is definitely not a Ferrari’.
We don’t do that.
“Combustion is going to remain an integral part of what we do, in combination with other technology. It needs the sound, so it needs to be combustion-driven.”
One piece of emerging technology Ferrari will never consider is any form of autonomous driving tech. Marchionne was adamant on this point. “Over my dead body,” he said. “You’d have to shoot me first.”
Lamborghini is playing a waiting game with electrification, but accepts that hybrids are the way of the future. Recently departed CEO Stephen Winkelmann said it’s inevitable, but that “electrification has to offer an added intensity” to performance.
“Lamborghini can at best be a fast follower – we are too small and lack the funds to set trends,” he told sister magazine Motor. “Do we believe in PHEV? Absolutely.
Can we afford it?
The Italian playin electrifica Recentl Winkelm e Lamborghin fol si Motor PH w Absol carmaker previewed a hybrid drivetrain in the concept-only Asterion at the 2014 Paris motor show and will go turbo and/or hybrid for the upcoming Urus SUV, but remains committed to large atmo engines for its supercars – at least until batteries improve considerably, especially in terms of weight.
“The situation may change once the right technology is available at the right price,” Winkelmann said. “We are talking about the next generation of sports cars here … Lamborghini needs a tailor-made concept that honours the chief brand values.
“We must do what Italians don’t do very well – be patient.”
From growing rival McLaren came a bold announcement at the show it is going to spend £1 billion ($1.9bn) on developing 15 new models or significant variants by 2022, and key to the spend will be hybrid models.
McLaren expects half of its cars to be hybrid by 2022 and – based on conversations with insiders – we believe its new electrical assistance system will team with a new six-cylinder engine that will make its debut in the facelifted Sports Series around 2020.
“Eventually cylinder count will come down,” said McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt. “Our powertrain engineers’ vision is that we go from a big powerful engine to, eventually, an EV and on the journey there you’ve got a period of hybridisation, minimal at first but eventually turning the combustion engine into a minority partner.”
While not confirming the switch to fewer cylinders, Flewitt admitted we will see a substantially lighter engine as part of the hybrid system when he told us he hoped to make it weight-neutral when compared to the existing powertrain.
“The P1 had 170kg of [electric componentry] if you added it up,” Flewitt said. “I think that today we’re within a 30-50kg weight we’re within a 30-50kg weight penalty for hybrid, but I want to eliminate that and get it to zero, and then to really hack off my engineers by saying we want to make it even lighter than a conventional powertrain.”
McLaren would not produce a new powertrain offering less performance than the existing model, so you can bet the hybrid system will be producing at least as much as the 397kW of the entry-level 625C, and likely a fair chunk more. The company has also said it is working on an allelectric hypercar concept to gauge potential demand for a rangetopping EV model.
“The goal here is not to say can we make an electric vehicle because, without being disrespectful to people out there, making an electric vehicle isn’t that hard – there are fewer components and the packaging is more simple,” Flewitt said. “The is more simple,” Flewitt said. “The challenge for us is more simple: Can we make an EV that feels like a P1 GTR? That delivers the same level of excitement? Because, if not, it’s the wrong answer for us – we’re genuinely trying to find out what our future is.”
Porsche, meanwhile, is readying a hybrid version of its most famous model, the 911. The head of 911 development, August Achleitner, confirmed to Wheels a hybrid 911 is likely to appear in the next generation of the iconic sports car, due about 2019.
“We are working on a hybrid version, but I cannot tell you when we will offer it,” said Achleitner.
Achleitner told us that, while the current 911 had been packageprotected for a hybrid system, it is unlikely to be fitted due to the weight of the batteries required, but that battery tech was advancing quickly, prompting Porsche to develop the Mission E, a Tesla-beater expected to be a Tesla-beater expected to be available in 2018.
“There’s such a big development taking place with battery technology which, especially with the 911, we are completely dependent on,” he said.