Maranello’s F1-inspired Hy-KERS Concept
By Marc Lachapelle
Despite huge development costs and great hopes of making Formula One racing more eco-friendly, the Kinetic energy recuperation system (KERS) used by some teams during the 2009 season has been dropped for this year. The technology does work and both Ferrari and McLaren have won races thanks to it.
The hallowed Italian maker has also used its experience with the KERS system in F1 to create a lightweight hybrid powertrain it plans to use on its production cars. The system is first seen in the Hy-KERS, a prototype based on the 599 GTB Fiorano that is displayed at the Palexpo in Geneva.
Ferrari promises that the new system can be adapted to any of its powertrains, regardless of the engine’s position in the cars. The intention is to shrink their carbon footprint by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the most infamous of the dreaded ‘greenhouse’ gases.
Ferrari needs to make sure its cars, however potent, meet the more stringent emissions standards that are coming soon. The main target is city driving, where high-strung sports and GT cars are at their worst and hybrids at their best, with the clean instant torque of their electric motors.
Under the bright green (hint!) matte skin of the Hy-KERS prototype or ‘rolling lab’ (vettura laboratorio) a tri-phase electric motor is added to the 6.0-litre, 611-hp V12 heart of the 599 GTB’s regular powertrain. The motor is mounted to the rear of the dual automated clutch 7-speed ‘F1’ gearbox and coupled to one of its two primary shafts. This way, the power distribution between the electric motor and gas engine is seamless and lag-free.
The motor itself weighs 40 kg (88 lbs) and develops the equivalent of 100 horsepower since Ferrari wanted each pound gained in weight to be compensated by at least one hp. It gets a special cooling and lubrication system designed to maintain its full efficiency at all temperatures and loads.
True to its designation, the KERS system’s electric motor turns into a generator under braking, morphing kinetic back into electricity and recharging its lithium-ion batteries. And since the flat battery pack components are laid below the floor, the centre of gravity is lower in the Hy-KERS than on the regular 599. All the system’s components are also placed in such a way that the sleek Fiorano’s interior and luggage space are fully intact.
Ferrari offered no projected performance numbers for the Hy-KERS but proudly announced, instead, that its hybrid powertrain spews out 35 per cent less CO2 than the 599 Fiorano on the combined Euro cycle. And that was the main goal.
With potential rivals such as the Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid also introduced in Geneva, this New Age of electric and hybrid sports cars is getting more interesting by the day for enthusiasts, however hard-core they might be.