Cars

From LaFerrari to the SF90 Stradale and 296 GTB, Ferrari’s hybrid technology has produced some of the quickest and most innovative road production cars ever seen
Words – Ross Brown
Video – Oliver McIntyre

The dawn of racing hybrid power came with the arrival of the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), fully introduced to Formula One for the 2009 season.

A complicated idea for its time, few manufacturers initially leapt at the chance of harnessing electricity to their tried-and-trusted racing powertrains.

Ultimately Ferrari were one of only four teams to adopt the system, along with McLaren, Renault and BMW. The results for the Scuderia were immediate, and Kimi Raikkonen became the first person to win a race in a KERS equipped car when his Ferrari crossed the finish line at the Belgian Grand Prix that year. 

 

From cutting edge F1 technology to innovative integrated power units, Ferrari's hybrid technology puts a new emphasis on acceleration

Although still in its infancy, KERS had proved that electricity had a clear role to play in future Ferrari success and a mere four years later, at the Geneva Motor Show in 2013, Ferrari unveiled LaFerrari, the most powerful production car they had ever built. 

Combining the 9250 rpm V12 engine with the F1-derived HY-KERS system, the 963 cv limited-edition road car was blisteringly quick, moving from a standing start to 200km/hr in 6.9 seconds and continuing to accelerate right up to 350 km/hr. Electricity had proved its point, and LaFerrari opened the doors for the next generation of Ferrari hybrid road cars: the SF90 Stradale and the 296 GTB.

Combining the V12 engine with an F1 derived HY-KERS system made LaFerrari the fastest road production car Ferrari had ever built

Unlike LaFerrari, which produced its KERS energy internally, both the SF90 Stradale and the 296 GTB utilise plug-in hybrid technology, providing each with 25 kilometres of pure electric range. But it’s when electricity meets combustion that the real fun begins.

 

As the first ever PHEV Ferrari, the SF90’s V8 combustion engine works alongside not one, but three electric motors, two of which are independent and located on the front axle, with the third at the rear between the engine and the gearbox.  

 

Even without electrical assistance, the SF90’s turbo charged V8 is a formidable piece of engineering, thumping out 780 cv, the highest power output of any 8-cylinder in Ferrari history. The three batteries then provide a further 220 cv and when all are combined with the V8, the SF90’s sudden 1000 cv will send the car from zero to 100 kms/hr in 2.5 seconds and continue on to 339 km/hr. 

The first Ferrari road car with rear-wheel drive PHEV, the turbo charged V6 is integrated with a rear electric motor that delivers 830cv 

But while the SF90, much like the LaFerrari before it, has its hybrid technology firmly focused on peak performance, the 296 GTB, unveiled this summer, is aimed at pure emotional enjoyment. The clear link between road car and Ferrari’s racing pedigree lies in the turbocharged V6 engine: the turbocharged V6 powered 126 C2 won the Formula One World Championship in 1982 and the hybrid V6 turbo architecture has been standard on all Formula 1 cars since 2014.


This however is the first Ferrari road car with rear-wheel drive PHEV, which means that the turbocharged V6 is integrated with a rear electric motor. Combining the engine with instant electrical acceleration delivers 830cv that provides a 0-100 km/hr time of 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 330 km/hr.

Ferrari's first ever PHEV road car: the SF90's turbo charged V8 works alongside not one but three electric motors, combining to deliver 1000 cv

 It’s also worth noting that when you do so, the V6 soundtrack becomes pure V12 harmonics. The instant acceleration, combined with the V12 soundtrack from the short wheelbase Berlinetta all work together to deliver a car that pushes the boundaries to the limit and makes it so much fun to drive.


From the cutting-edge technology of the F1 circuit to the innovative integrated power units of their road cars, one thing remains clear: hybrid technology for Ferrari will always be fast. Very fast indeed.