Ferrari showed its first hybrid concept, based on the 599, in 2010 and used electric motors to boost the performance of the low-volume LaFerrari hypercar in 2013. However, this is the first time that Ferrari will have used hybrid technology on a series production model.
As with most car makers, Ferrari believes that many big metropolitan areas will introduce zero-emissions zones during the next decade or so as a way of radically reducing air pollution.
Indeed, London has already announced that all vehicles entering the city centre could have to be zero-emissions capable by 2025.
Like the California T, the new Dino is intended to be a more everyday Ferrari that will attract buyers in affluent metropolitan areas.
In 2013, a Ferrari mule based on the current California T and wearing body panels that disguised it as a shortened 599 was snapped by spy photographers. It’s thought this prototype was an early road-going test mule for the new hybrid system shown in the patent.
The actual patent is for a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive car that has two large battery packs mounted under the floorpan. Although the rear-mounted dual-clutch automatic gearbox is conventional, it also has an electric motor attached to it in a layout that’s similar to the 599 Hybrid concept’s.
The big difference with the proposed car in the Ferrari patent application is the size of the battery pack. The 599 concept had two small lithium ion batteries, which had a combined capacity of just 3kWh. By contrast, today’s plug-in hybrid Volkswagen Golf - a much smaller and lighter car- has an 8.8kWh battery.
This patent shows how Ferrari engineers have tried to solve the problem of needing a much bigger battery pack. The engineering hurdle was trying to squeeze the batteries into a compact supercar that has a space-hungry transmission at the rear. Using a large battery pack under the floor was probably ruled out because Ferrari needs to be able to mount the seats as low as possible.
The solution is a series of individual cylindrical cells, which are mounted together in a herringbone pattern in a single layer and built into the floor structure. Much of the patent detail applies to a ‘support matrix’ in which the individual batteries are mounted. This is thought to be the key to being able to mount the battery packs so close to the car’s sill.
In the event of a side impact, the batteries need to be adequately protected from the consequences of the crash forces. To this end, aside from the large sill beam shown in the patent drawing, Ferrari’s engineers have come up with a new ‘support matrix’ for the batteries and a clever way of connecting the individual batteries together.
These battery connections are described as ‘disconnecting plates’, and should they become ‘disrupted’ in the event of a big side impact, individual batteries become disconnected from each other.