Inside Mercedes-AMG’s F1-powered supercar

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New machine to feature more than 736kW of hybrid power

The new $3.4 million Mercedes-AMG hypercar, known under the internal working name Project One, will be powered by an advanced petrol-electric plug in hybrid drivetrain based around an Formula One derived petrol engine that operates in combination with four electric motors to deliver an overall output of over 736kW in most performance orientated driving mode, AMG boss Tobias Moers has confirmed.

The hi-tech driveline, unveiled at a media event at the Nurburgring 24 Hour race in Germany, uses a heavily revised version of the electrically turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 housed in the Mercedes-AMG W08 EQ Power+ race car, as driven by Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in the 2017 F1 World Championship.

Like the German car maker’s latest F1 race car, the upcoming four-wheel drive AMG road car also features both an MGU-K (motor generation unit – kinetic) and MGU-H (motor generation unit-heat) functions as part of a complex Energy Recovery System (ERS) mounted around the mid-mounted petrol engine at the rear.

Mercedes-AMG chief Tobias Moers says the car will be the wildest machine in the brand’s history. Photo: Daimler AG

The former , developing 100kW, acts as an electric motor under acceleration and a generator to recuperate kinetic energy under braking, with the latter rated at 80kW used to electrically power the petrol engine’s turbocharger for instant response as well as to convert heat from the turbocharger into electrical energy for storage in the new car’s sophisticated battery.

Together, the combustion engine and the rear mounted electric motors provide drive exclusively to the rear wheels.

Channelling the Project One’s heady reserves is a an eight speed automated manual gearbox that acts as a structural bearing element within the driveline at the rear of the engine, where it supports an intricate five-link rear suspension featuring pushrod style spring and damper units.

In a departure from the German car maker’s rear-wheel drive F1 race car, the new headlining AMG model’s front wheels can be driven individually by two electric motors and a pair of fixed ratio gearboxes mounted within the front axle assembly with torque distributed selectively to the wheel with the most grip – a layout mirroring that of the earlier pure electric  Mercedes-AMG SLS Electric Drive to provide the Project One four-wheel drive capability. Called AMG Toque Dynamics, the electronically control system  mimics the rear wheel torque vectoring effect seen on other less extreme four-wheel drive AMG models.

The two front mounted electric motors deliver a combined 240kW exclusively to the front wheels, providing the Project One with a claimed range of up to 25km in pure electric mode, according to Moers. When required the MGU-K can also provide electric drive to the rear wheels, essentially endowing it with pure electric four-wheel drive capability.

The battery used to power the Project One’s four electric motors is based on the same lithium ion cell technology found in the Mercedes-Benz F 1 racer. Boasting four time the energy density as the battery used in the race car, it is mounted low towards the front of the floor structure, providing it a favourable front-to-rear weight distribution and low centre of gravity.

All up, the advanced new plug-in hybrid system is claimed to weigh 420kg, with the batteries adding a further 100kg. Moers is tightlipped on the Project One’s overall kerb weight but admits earlier claims suggesting it will tip the scales under 1000kg are premature. “There are a lot of regulatory factors to consider. We have to build in all the safety features, including crash structures,” he says.

Engineering for the Mercedes-AMG hypercar is being carried out in a joint program between AMG in Affalterbach, Germany and its High Performance Powertrain sister company located in Brixworth, England.

At the unveiling of the new car’s drivetrain, Moers claimed it achieves a thermal efficiency of 43 per cent. By comparison, the  thermal efficiency of AMG’s existing twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 is put at 25 per cent.

Eight examples of the car will come to Australia. Photo: Daimler AG

Moers says AMG is developing a special program to support buyers of the Project One, though he suggests the new car will not be as difficult to drive as many anticipate.

“Because of the F1 derived technology used by the new car, prospective buyers have been asking if they will require a support crew or dedicated lubricants to run it. My answer is always no. It will be a street car. You keep it plugged in in the garage. You fill it with fuel. That’s it.”

The definitive production version of the Project One is planned to be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September before a start to deliveries in late 2018. AMG has announced production of its new performance flagship will be limited to 275 units. Moers confirms it will be assembled in left-hand drive guise only on a one-car-a-day basis. Production is planned to take place in a two year period between 2018 and 2020.

The Australian allocation for the new car is put at eight units. “We’ve received 16 firm expressions of interest, but our allocation is half that. We could sell more, though the numbers for each individual market are limited,” says David McCarthy,senior manager public relations Mercedes-Benz Australia.

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