Ferrari has made a patent application for a clever four-wheel drive hybrid system, which could be fitted to both its front- and rear-engined models.
The company’s idea is to reduce the complexity of conventional hybrid systems by separating the roles of the engine and the electric motor.
Under the Ferrari proposals, the electric motor will independently operate one pair of wheels and the engine the other pair.
Ferrari has submitted six different layouts for the patent. In all of them the engine drives a motor/generator, which in turn drives one pair of wheels via electricity provided by an on-board battery.
However, some of the proposals see the wheels driven by a conventional differential and axles and in the others, small, in-wheel, electric motors will be used to drive the wheels.
The patent application says that the hybrid system is designed to improve handling rather than reducing fuel consumption.
“The aim of the present invention is to provide a four-wheel - drive vehicle with hybrid propulsion…and being at the same time easy and inexpensive to produce.”
Ferrari says that this kind of ‘part time’ 4x4 system is not only less complex, but lighter and less troubled by frictional losses. It also means all-out performance is not permanently blunted because the engine does not have to drive all four wheels all of the time.
According to application, “The four-wheel drive that can be engaged enables the driver of the automobile to decide whether to use the rear drive or the four-wheel drive; in this way, the driver can use the rear drive in optimal conditions of adherence and can use the four- wheel drive in poor conditions of adherence”.