April 23, 2014

Ferrari California Hybrid on the way? And ‘KERS Confusion’ too.

Ferrari California Hybrid

Ferrari California Hybrid on the way?

A patent application by Ferrari for a new hybrid system has lead to speculation that a Ferrari California Hybrid is on the way.

Ferrari has been flirting with hybrid set-ups for years and actually previewed a 599 with a ‘HY-KERS’ hybrid system at Geneva 2012.

We’re also pretty sure that the new Ferrari Enzo F70 will get a hybrid system for an extra 120bhp boost on top of its 800bhp from a fettled version of the V12 in the new F12 Berlinetta.

And now it looks like the Ferrari California is going to get a hybrid setup – at some point – after Car and Driver uncovered a Ferrari patent application for a hybrid system in a front-mounted 90-degree engine. Which is a sensible conclusion and a sensible direction for Ferrari – a power boost and lower ‘official’ CO2 figures. Win-Win.

What is confusing (and maybe we’re just being thick) is that Car and Driver – and every other outlet that’s picked up the story of the Ferrari Hybrid Patent – seem to think it’s vastly different to the HY-KERS system shown on the 599 in 2012. But is it?

For some odd reason the world seems to think that HY-KERS used a flywheel to store recovered power rather than batteries or a supercapacitor. But unless we’ve missed something the HY-KERS system used a lithium ion battery pack mounted at the side of the rear transaxle with an electric motor in the transaxle itself. No mention of a flywheel storage.

In fact, as far as we can tell, Ferrari have never built a road car with a KERS flywheel. We did report on the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid using flywheel storage developed by Williams F1, and Volvo and Jaguar are known to have played too. But the Ferrari Hybrid sytems we know of all use a battery, not a flywheel.

Perhaps the confusion comes from the ‘KERS’ moniker Ferrari used on the 599, which is an F1 term which started to be used around the time the flywheel storage was being talked about. Who knows?

But as far as we can tell Ferrari hybrids are basically what you’d expect – the recovered energy stored in a battery.

And it looks like the Ferrari California – as well as the F70 – will get a hybrid system.

But not with flywheel storage.

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