"Ferrari hybrid" is right up there with "Porsche diesel" and "Bentley SUV" as far as oxymorons go.
Unusual or not, it's a reality--Ferrari has been entertaining the idea of a hybrid for a few years now, and Car and Driver has revealed that patents for the company's technology have now hit the web.
The system appears to be a variation on the Kinetic Energy Recovery System used in Formula 1 racing. Though not a flywheel-based system as many were expecting, the Ferrari hybrid system will still recover braking energy and store that energy in either a battery or supercapacitor--similar to the systems used in the F1 racers.
Ferrari's patent lists both a battery and a supercapacitor as storage methods, and two electric motors will also be used. The position for these varies in the patent drawings, with motors being shown between the cylinder banks in the V engine, and at the rear transaxle.
While one motor handles propulsion--ready to give an extra burst of speed, just as F1 KERS are designed to do--the other will handle ancillary systems.
Those ancillary systems--power steering, air conditioning and more--usually draw power from the engine, which uses extra fuel and requires even more power to provide the sort of performance possible if they weren't there.
The benefits are clear: Ferrari won't require as much power from its engines to match the levels of performance expected by customers, meaning better fuel consumption. It also means that with hybrid-assisted boost, the cars may even be quicker than their modern counterparts.
The patent drawings all refer to cars with a front-mounted, 90-degree V-configuration engine. In Ferrari's current line-up, that suggests the California, rather than the 65-degree V of the 599 and FF, or the mid-mounted engine of the 458 Italia.
As C&D points out however, patent applications are no solid guarantee that a technology will go into production--though with companies like Porsche also deeply involved in hybrid technology, we'd be surprised if a hybrid Ferrari didn't appear in the next few model cycles.