Hybrids, Mostly Built for Speed, Slated for Geneva
European carmakers are preparing their latest cool hybrid concepts for the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, which runs March 4 to 14. The dominant theme is green speed. Here’s a sneak peak at a few vehicle unveilings, which show some restraint on fuel economy, but hold nothing back on horsepower.
Mercedes F800 Style
Mercedes will unveil its F800 Style plug-in hybrid concept at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. With its 10 kWh battery pack, the car can travel up to 18 miles solely on electricity—although perhaps not when pushed to the limits of its 4.7-second 0-60 mph acceleration and top speed of 155 mph. The combined output of the F800’s V6 gas engine with direct injection and its 109-horsepower hybrid system is about 400 total horsepower. Mercedes didn’t share its arithmetic, but estimates the average fuel economy of the F800 at 80 miles per gallon.
Other innovations include compact modular packaging of the batteries, motors and fuel cells to preserve interior space for five passengers; an instrumental panel that uses a camera to record your hand, thus allowing iPhone-like wiping, turning and zooming functions; and—believe it not—“traffic jam assist” for hands-free driving at low speeds. The F800 Style could be a sign that Mercedes-Benz is serious about delivering a plug-in hybrid version of the S-Class in the next few years, as promised. The Mercedes F800 Style can also be equipped as a fuel cell vehicle.
Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid
Porsche is scheduled to debut its 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 R hybrid all-wheel-drive racing car in Geneva. The company will use the vehicle to gather knowledge about how hybrids perform in racing conditions. This is not a gas-battery hybrid, but a gas-flywheel hybrid used to provide brief bursts of acceleration. These bursts—120 kilowatts or 161 horsepower sent to the front wheels—are added to the 911 GT3 R Hybrid’s 480-hp 4.0-liter flat-6 powering the rear wheels.
The flywheel spins as fast as 40,000 rpm, and the driver calls that energy into service by simply pressing a button mounted on the steering wheel. The benefit, according to Porsche, is quicker acceleration out of corners and during overtaking. The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid will race at the upcoming Nürburgring 24 Hours this May, and by 2012, will head to the 2012 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Switzerland-based Protoscar is back at the Geneva Motors Show this year with an upgraded version of the Lampo, which it unveiled last year in Geneva. The Lampo2 uses a 30 kWh battery pack and two electric motors—allowing four-wheel drive with variable torque between front and rear axle—to yield about 260 kW (or 350 horsepower). Another limited run ultra-expensive all-electric sports car might not be news—but the company is using the Protoscar to demonstrate an off-board DC fast-charging system that promises 60 miles of added range after a 10-minute charge. Rapid charging will make a big difference for consumer adoption of electric vehicles.
Ferrari 599 GTB Hybrid
As we previously reported, Ferrari will show its first hybrid production car in Geneva. We expect the car to 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 more important metric is speed, but we won’t have specs until the Geneva show in March.
Peugeot will use Geneva to show of a vehicle that’s a little closer to reality and a lot more on target for green-oriented drivers. Caveat: Don’t expect the Peugeot SR1, or the diesel-hybrids that use the same system to show up in the United States.
The sleek and edgy three-seat (2+1) SR1 uses a drive system, borrowed from Peugeot’s HYbrid4 technology, that pairs a small 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine powering the front wheels and a 95-horsepower electric motor at the rear. The diesel-hybrid drive system, using nickel-based rather than lithium batteries, is expected to go into production in 2011 with the Peugeot 3008 sports utility vehicle and the luxury Citroen DS5. The diesel-hybrid combo could deliver almost 50 miles to the gallon, despite offering about 313 horsepower.
The concept has a reported top speed of 155 mph and a 0-60-mph time of less than 4.7 seconds. The SR1 has a one-piece lightweight carbon-fiber body and tubular chassis—and a removable hardtop made of preformed plastic using technology “derived from the world of sailing,” according to Peugeot.