This morning we brought news that Ferrari was going to unveil an eco-conscious supercar concept, but no details or pictures were yet available. Now, we can officially rectify that problem. To my eye, the vehicle looks like a mini Enzo, which is pretty much what the guys from CAR online think too. Presumably, that would be because the Enzo already featured excellent aerodynamics, plus, it is instantly recognizable as a Ferrari. The Mille Chili concept ups the ante a bit further with it's active aerodynamics - openings in the underbody of the vehicle which can change in size or shape in order to improve airflow or reduce the speed of the vehicle. The powertrain apparently showcases a new type of hybrid powertrain. The main purpose of the system mimics that which is in plans for F1 cars. An electric motor provides small bursts of power, 60kW worth (over 60 horsepower), which is used while the vehicle's gearbox is being shifted. The more important figure would be torque, because that is really what an electric motor is great for, but that is not yet known. While it does not seem that the vehicle would be capable of powering itself for any length of time on electricity alone, a noteworthy increase in efficiency could be realized with a system such as this one, which is also capable of recapturing energy which would normally be lost to friction and heat.
Continue reading for more details about the Ferrari eco-concept!
[Source: car magazine online]
Another noteworthy change to conventional automobile design is the lack of adjustable seats. Instead, the pedals and steering wheel can be repositioned for different drivers. This significantly lowers the weight and allows better aerodynamics, as the driving position is fixed and the body and windshield can be lowered around the canopy.
Ethanol can be utilized in the concept vehicle's engine, allowing a higher specific output than a comparable gasoline engine. That also means, however, that more fuel would be required to travel a comparable distance. The engine and gearbox design is made somewhat lighter, however I would imagine that adding the motor and batteries or capacitors might mitigate those gains. Direct injection is also utilized.
Carbon fiber, which is currently quite expensive, is used extensively in the vehicle, as it is in F1 vehicles. The stiffness of the carbon fiber allows the vehicle to be physically smaller while still retaining it's strength for safety. If you have seen some of the spectacular crashes in F1 racing and witnessed a driver walk away, the high cost might seem trivial when one considers the benefits of the material. Hopefully as more vehicles use carbon fiber and other composites, the cost will go down. Other details include ceramic brakes and low rolling resistance tires.
There is quite a bit of technology wrapped up in this sleek new package from Ferrari. Don't expect to see this vehicle on the roads any time soon, though. So much technology undoubtedly comes at a high price. That price is worth it when it comes to racing, apparently, but not for street driven vehicles. But this vehicle does go to show that racing technology and practices can allow manufactures to improve efficiency. Whether this concept can truly be considered green is certainly debatable, however, the trickle down effect would be great to see in real life.