Ultraluxury nameplates such as Ferrari, McLaren, Bentley and Porsche are opting for electric powertrains to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from their supercars.
Hybrid systems used in Ferrari’s LaFerrari, McLaren’s P1 and Porsche’s 918 Spyder simultaneously boost performance while improving fuel economy.
“Moving to hybrid propulsion seems like a logical next step” for supercar makers, said Stefan Bratzel, head of the Center of Automotive Management near Cologne. “By curbing emissions and boosting performance, they can justify building more of these cars.”
Volkswagen Group subsidiary Bentley’s CO2-reducing solution is to offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain variant in 90 percent of its lineup by the end of the decade. A Bentley spokesman declined to say what the upgrade is expected to do to improve the brand’s overall fleet emissions.
Bentley’s CO2 performance is calculated within the VW Group total, so while the automaker is interested in reducing emissions, “the EU targets don’t have any direct impact on us,” the spokesman said. VW Group has promised to reduce its overall fleet CO2 to 95 grams per kilometer by 2020 from 128g/km last year.
Ferrari wants to reduce its fleet emissions by 20 percent by 2021 without sacrificing power. To do that, the supercar maker will use hybrid systems on V-12s and turbochargers on V-8 engines, Vittorio Dini, Ferrari’s powertrain director, told Automotive News Europe.
Ferrari’s average CO2 emissions are currently about 270g/km, Dini said in a recent interview. “We want to use all the available technologies to reduce emissions by 3 percent each year, which means approximately a 20 percent decrease by 2021.”
Ferrari’s average CO2 emissions have fallen by almost 40 percent since 2007, when they were 435g/km, Dini said.
Although it is part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ferrari says it is treated as a stand-alone company when it comes to meeting tougher global CO2 emissions targets. That is because of Ferrari’s small size and the fact that the Italian brand has a different headquarters than parent Fiat and has its own technical centers.
Dini said one benefit of its low-volume production — roughly 7,000 units a year — is that Ferrari has been able to negotiate its own targets with both European Union regulators and officials at the U.S. EPA.
“What is important is that Ferrari achieves the same percentage reduction trend as volume automakers,” Dini said.
He said Ferrari would count on hybrid solutions for its V-12 engines, which are currently found in its top-of-the-range F12 Berlinetta and FF models. Ferrari showed what is possible from the strategy last year with the introduction of its first hybrid model, the limited-edition LaFerrari. The supercar, which costs more than 1 million euros (about $1.34 million) before taxes, gets its power from an 800-hp normally aspirated 6.3-liter V-12 and a 120 kilowatt (equivalent to 163 hp) electric motor.
The LaFerrari has a combined 963 hp and emits 330g/km of CO2, while the model it replaced, the Enzo, offered 660 hp and emitted 545g/km of CO2.
Ferrari also has successfully cut CO2 while boosting performance with help from turbocharging in the recently launched California T. The supercar’s turbocharged 3.9-liter V-8 gasoline engine creates 552 hp and emits 250g/km of CO2, while its predecessor’s 4.3-liter naturally aspired V-8 offered 483 hp and emitted 299g/km of CO2.
“In the future, all of our V-8s will use turbos,” Dini said, adding that Ferrari’s next challenge is to decrease the displacement of its V-8s while adding even more power.
Dini said turbos are not a good solution for Ferrari’s V-12s because four turbo units would be needed to achieve the required improvements. That would take up too much space and create too much heat in the engine compartment.