Ferrari Hy-Kers project preludes a future Ferrari hybrid

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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While it's true that hybrid vehicles are often thought of as economical and rather anodyne forms of transportation, in truth many recent hybrids are both sporty and quite powerful. And while most hybrid vehicles currently on the market are offered by high-volume automakers, now that hybrid technology is growing in sophistication and popularity exotic supercar manufacturers are starting to build performance-oriented hybrids as well.

Ferrari's Hy-Kers project, which was introduced at the Geneva International Motor Show in March of 2010 and in upgraded form at the recent 2012 Beijing International Auto Show, could result in one such exotic hybrid. Upon its initial introduction in 2010, the Ferrari Hy-Kers was essentially a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano with a hybrid powertrain. The evolution of the Hy-Kers as displayed in Beijing utilizes a V12 engine and a dual-clutch transmission along with an electric drive motor. Power from the electric drive motor is transferred via one of the dual-clutch transmission's two clutches, while another electric motor is dedicated solely to the vehicle's auxiliary systems and is located at the front of the engine.

As its name implies, the Ferrari Hy-Kers also employs a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) as part of its braking system. When the brakes are applied the electric drive motor becomes a generator, using kinetic energy recovered during braking to recharge the Hy-Kers' batteries. The latest evolution of Ferrari's kinetic energy recovery system now features smaller and lighter electronic components, which Ferrari says come close to achieving a target output of 1kW for every kilogram of weight added to the vehicle by the hybrid system.

The kinetic energy recovery system is managed by a dedicated electronic control unit (ECU) that controls the electric drive motor and also the auxiliary systems including the power steering, air conditioning, brake servo and onboard systems. The ECU and other components were derived from systems developed within Ferrari's Formula 1 motorsport program, where Ferrari has successfully employed kinetic energy recovery technology.

So, why has Ferrari delved into the realm of hybrid technology? The aim is to develop a vehicle that benefits from increased power while simultaneously reducing fuel consumption and emissions. This is achieved in part through the use of electric motors, which of course do not emit pollutants. Ferrari claims that the Hy-Kers' system will reduce emissions by 40-percent over the combined driving cycle while maintaining the same nominal power output as a non-hybrid internal combustion engine.

With the experimental phase of the Hy-Kers project now concluded, Ferrari says the development phase will begin in the coming months. There are also rumours circulating that Ferrari will introduce a hybrid-powered successor to its legendary Enzo supercar by 2013 that will surely make use of Hy-Kers technology. Although the electric motors and ancillary systems of hybrid powertrains add weight, the potential for more power and reduced emissions offer an advantage that Ferrari will likely exploit in the coming years.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hybrid, Ferrari, 2012, Hy-Ker, Exotic, Supercar,

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