Eco-Living Magazine

Hybrids Get a Makeover at Geneva Auto Show

Posted on the 07 March 2013 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

McLaren P1

Does anyone remember the original Toyota Prius or Honda Insight? Not many of us want to. Though technological feats on paper, they performed less convincingly in practice. Plus, their styling could only be described as vapid. However, in the roughly 13 years since those cars were introduced to the U.S., much has changed in the world of hybrid technology.

As unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this week, Formula One-inspired hybrid powertrains can now be found under the hoods of the Ferrari “LaFerrari” and McLaren P1 (as well as the upcoming Porsche 918). With Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards finalized at 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG), automakers are looking at everything from lightweight materials to hybrid technology to gain efficiency. The classic automotive adage, “there’s no replacement for displacement,” just got a little bit older.

Admittedly, there is still some truth to the saying. This past Tuesday, Ferrari released the LaFerrari, the predecessor to the brand-defining Ferrari Enzo. The vehicle features Ferrari’s first-ever production hybrid powertrain, known as HY-KERS (hybrid-kinetic energy recovery system). It consists of a 120 kilowatt electric motor and a 6.3-liter V12 engine. Combined output is 950 horsepower and Ferrari says the hybrid system reduces 0-200 KPH (124 MPH) time by 10 percent to less than 7 seconds, and curbs emissions by 40 percent compared to a non-hybrid solution. The electric motor delivers up to 161 horsepower to the rear wheels and is charged under braking and while the engine produces excess torque, such as when traction control intervenes.

Unlike the LaFerrari, the McLaren P1 is a full-on, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The more traditional setup gives it the ability to operate in EV-only mode, providing a range of slightly more than six miles. The P1 also makes due with just 8 cylinders and 3.8 liters of capacity. Despite twin turbos, the P1 is still slightly down on combined power at 903 horsepower. The battery, which provides 176 horsepower, is used to help smooth out the “laggy” nature of the turbocharged engine and sharpen the driving experience.

Vehicles like the LaFerrari and P1 are easy to criticize. Their miniscule production numbers (totaling 874 collectively) and insane 7-figure asking prices, make them available as weekend toys to only the wealthiest of consumers. Needless to say, they’re not going to save the planet; they’re more of a sign of the times. Hybrids will soon be everywhere!

Image © Copyright McLaren Automotive Limited

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