Whether the Ferrari 599 Hybrid that bowed at last year’s Geneva Motor Show is the car Ferrari customers want, it’s likely one that the Italian sports car maker needs going forward. With higher expectations for fleet average C02 emissions around the corner, Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo said that he hopes to lower emissions by at least 35 percent by 2013 and offer a hybrid model for every car in the Maranello-based automaker’s lineup by 2014. Given that timeline, one would expect testing of production versions of Ferrari’s proposed hybrids to be under way. Now, British magazine Autocar reports that it has caught the first images of a Ferrari hybrid test mule in Germany.
Having spotted German pre-registration plates, Autocar believes this mule to be Ferrari’s test bed for hybrid tech. The UK publication says that normal Ferrari prototypes would wear Italian “Prova” license plates, but as the car in question is registered in Germany, with markings that place its exact point of origin in Stuttgart — the region that Bosch, German supply company and suspected co-developer of Ferrari’s hybrid systems, calls home. Autocar pegs it as a future hybrid model of a next-gen front-engined Ferrari.
Originally expected to get a flywheel-based Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) derived from the same technology used in Ferrari’s Formula 1 efforts, the 599 Hybrid instead uses a pair of electric motors to take some of the load off the internal combustion engine. A low-capacity motor in the front helps power accessory systems when running on all-electric power, while a more powerful motor at the rear, rated at 100 hp and 110 lb-ft, helps drive the wheels. Compact lithium-ion battery packs lay flat beneath the 599’s floor without cutting into interior space or affecting the car’s center of gravity, according to di Montezemolo.
Autocar also reports that Ferrari is developing a fast-acting traction control system that works by reversing the torque of the electric motor instead of applying brakes or cutting engine power. This system, according to Autocar, would deliver more linear throttle response and keep momentum up between gear changes.
Although the vehicle spied in Germany appears to be a current 599 GTB in camo, the British mag believes it to be a V-8-powered Ferrari California clad in the 599’s body panels. As di Montezemolo has already said he wants a hybrid model for every car in Ferrari’s range, a hybrid California shouldn’t be too surprising. Whatever Autocar has caught, it’s clear that Ferrari is testing something it doesn’t want us automotive journalist types getting wise to.
View the full gallery of photos over at Autocar.