Actually, the headline is quite literal. It would appear that Ferrari is working on four wheel drive hybrid propulsion systems after plans submitted to the European Patent Office were uncovered by Autocar.
It’s been known for some time that Ferrari has been working on Hybrid and 4WD systems, but these drawings show that Ferrari is in fact looking at a simpler system designed more to aid handling than to benefit the environment.
Ferrari’s plans centre around using electric motors to drive one set of wheels, either through one motor or a motor in each wheel, whilst the petrol engine drives the other. Ferrari’s aim seems to be to give the benefits of 4WD to drivers without the big weight penalties associated with more common 4WD systems.
Whilst it is pretty clear that this is a system meant to improve handling, it does raise the possibility that Ferrari could then introduce a stop-start system to their cars fitted with this new 4WD system, and even allow their cars to start off on electric motor power only, with the engine cutting in once on the move. Or, ultimately, a kind of ‘City’ mode where the main propulsion was through the electric motor.
These additional benefits would seem to be peripheral to Ferrari’s aims, but stop–start and city modes would mean a big reduction in emission outputs in urban environment, which might take some of the heat off Ferrari and other makers of powerful cars to run full hybrids in their range.