Ferrari will show its first hybrid production car this March at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. The high-end hybrid specimen will be a gas-electric version of the carmaker’s eye-popping 599 GTB. It will also be the world’s first ready-for-market exotic hybrid.
The exact specs will not be known until the car is unveiled, but it will most likely unite a lithium ion battery pack with a pair of electric motors fixed at the rear axle, along with Ferrari’s outlandishly powerful 600-plus horsepower V12 engine. Other fuel-saving features will include start-stop capabilities and Formula One-based regenerative braking technology known as KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System). Fuel economy is expected to increase by about 30 percent over the non-hybrid 599 GTB. In other words, it will go from about 9 miles per gallon to about 12 miles per gallon.
The days of fuel economy only coming in small, slow and stripped-down cars are over. Every major auto show these days brings the unveiling of another green super car using hybrid or electric car technology to conserve fuel while delivering Ferrari-like performance.
Nobody expects the Ferrari 599 GTB to save the earth from global warming—especially when you consider how few Ferraris there are, and how little they are actually driven by their owners. Ultimately, this move serves more as a sign of the times and a testament to technology, rather than having any kind of tangible impact on the environment. “It sends a message,” said Ben Davis, roadtest producer for PBS’ MotorWeek. “It’s a ripple effect that starts at the upper echelon of the auto industry, and echoes a theme that green is good.”
Reports of Ferrari testing a hybrid powertrain first surfaced in June 2009, but details were sketchy. Ferrari’s plans to reduce carbon emissions have been making news for the last few years, mainly due to Europe’s resolution for more stringent emissions standards to take effect in 2012. Still, it is unclear what route Ferrari and other ultra-luxury brands will take. Hybrids are just one possibility in a field of options that included diesels, electric cars, biofuels, and hydrogen. Ferrari may explore these other areas, but gas-electric technology is the carmaker’s first concrete initiative on the green front.