Industry Trend – Hybrid Super Cars
September 12, 2013

A recent industry trend is that manufacturer flagship super cars are implementing hybrid technology into their new models. Upon first glance, the concept seems foolish, as the buyer that can afford a seven figure vehicle you would think could chip in a few more dollars for the fuel bill. However this is a rapidly changing industry and hybrid technology is now no longer exclusive to the Prius. Three super cars come to mind when discussing the topic, the Mclaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder. Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo says that “more hybrids are on the way” after the successful launch of the $1.34 million LaFerrari, which has already sold out. Launched at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, this was the first car with hybrid technology to come out of Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters. “I don’t believe in the electric cars, but I strongly believe in hybrids” says Montezemolo. Production was limited to just 499 cars which emit only 330 g/km of CO2 reducing emissions by 40%. Examine the LaFerrari technology here.

Porsche is set to unveil its $845,000 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid, claiming that never before has a super car designed for everyday use offer such an impressive dynamic performance combined with the fuel consumption of a compact car. “It makes sense to test new technology with luxury and high-end cars as customers tend to be less price-sensitive and more willing to pay for additional technology,” Sascha Gommel, an analyst with Porsche AG. “In addition, hybrid technology could make a sports car even more dynamic as an electric power train improves the acceleration” explains Gommel. Take a look at the promotional video here.

04-mclaren-p1A key performance advantage is the torque generated from the electric motors. Electric motors are fantastic at producing instant torque and aid the vehicle in getting off the line in a hurry. Expect sub three second zero to sixty times with these machines. An additional benefit is that the motors can be used under heavy breaking to regenerate power into storage for later use. The engineering benefit is that the batteries are placed as low as possible, creating an extremely low center of gravity therefore allowing for tighter cornering. Want to see this technology in action? Watch as late night host Jay Leno take a brand new McLaren P1 out for a spin.

Of course greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions are the environmental benefits. A strong issue in the industry is to reduce emissions and heavily fine or ban vehicles that are not compliant with current and future environmental standards. Arguably the toughest standards reside in Europe where the European Commission continuously work to limit carbon dioxide emissions from cars. They are set to release their new set of Euro 6 emission standards as of January 1st, 2014.

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Other luxury manufactures are also creating working and concept hybrid models. BMW unveiled the final production version of its much anticipated i8 electricity car last month, which BMW designed to have low running costs and fast charging times. Mercedes-Benz continues to innovate with the launch of their third hybrid model of the new S-Class, which has ultra-low emissions. Land Rover will be launching hybrid diesel SUVs for the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models which they said in a statement can travel up to a mile on electric power alone, at speeds of 30 mph.

In conclusion, hybrid technology is becoming the future of the industry as it is versatile in providing both performance and efficiency. The age of electric vehicles is upon us and very slowly, we are moving towards an oil free automotive industry.

– Rob Scott for the Automotive Business School of Canada

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