May 27, 2017
The Mercedes-AMG hypercar, codenamed Project One, will be powered by an Formula 1-derived engine that works with a twin electric motor set-up, a new official image has revealed.
The engine will be a road-adapted version of the 1.6-litre V6 used in Mercedes' W08 EQ Power+ F1 racer, and, also like that car, features MGU-K and MGU-H motor generator units.
Again in line with the F1 car, Project One's gearbox forms part of its structure. However, it will be an automated manual gearbox.
The lithium ion batteries that power the motors that drive the Project One's front wheels are placed low and towards the front of the structure, keeping the centre of gravity down and evening out the weight distribution of the whole set-up.
AMG is targeting a weight of 1300kg for the car and 1000bhp for its powertrain, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 769bhp/tonne - 28bhp/tonne more than the Bugatti Chiron.
Currently, engineering work is being done on the car by Mercedes' F1 team in Brixworth, Northamptonshire.
The car, which will cost approximately £2.4m including VAT, will be revealed at the Frankfurt motor show this autumn ahead of going on sale in 2018. Mercedes expects all cars to have been allocated before the launch.
The upcoming model's peak power is similar to the output generated by the W08 EQ Power+. That makes it competitive with the likes of the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder and Aston Martin and Red Bull's Valkyrie.
The Project One's front wheels can be driven individually so torque can be distributed selectively – a technology already used in the Mercedes-AMG SLS Electric Drive. Called AMG Torque Dynamics, it is essentially extreme active torque-vectoring.
AMG boss Tobias Moers (pictured below) said less just 275 versions of the Project One would be made and that he expects all units to be sold before the model's reveal at the Frankfurt motor show. Buyers' first drives will take place in mid-2018, and Mercedes-AMG has reportedly had over 1000 expressions of interest in the new model. "it will be up to local-market management to decide who gets a car," said Moers.
"Beyond that, we expect to develop a special program to support owners, but using the car will not be as complicated as many prospective customers seem to expect. Because of the F1 technology in the car, people are asking me "will I need a support crew or dedicated fuel to run it," - and my answer is always no. This will be a street car. You keep it plugged in in the garage. You fill it with '98' when you buy fuel. That's it."
The car will have an electric range of 30km (around 18 miles) and will be one of the "most fascinating two-seaters to ever hit the road”, said Moers.
Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche added: "Our aim is for [the Project One] to be the first street legal car with an F1 engine," he said. "Secondly, that it is perceived as the ultimate sports car. We have relatively good indications that this is possible."
Formula 1 engine and tech
Talking about the F1-derived powertrain, Moers told Autocar: "We have to change something for sure. 3500-4000 revs is not that great for the road." He added: "The red line is over 10,000 even in the street legal car." In fact, Moers has since confirmed that the Project One will be able to rev to 11,000rpm.
Moers has previously talked about using the F1 powertrain: "Our F1 engine is far more durable than many people expect, and if you look at the load it must take in an F1 race compared to how it’s likely to be used in a street-legal machine, you can see it’s going to have a lot less work to do." The unit is expected to have more power than that used in an F1 car.
The hypercar's MGU-K converts mechanical and heat energy into electrical energy that can be stored for later deployment, and the MGU-H that takes heat from the exhaust and uses it to create electrical energy.
It is as yet unknown how the engine will be made emissions-compliant. The car will uses an automated manual transmission as an F1 transmission would need to be heavily adapted to suit a roadgoing application. "I can tell you we will be using an 'AMT' (automated manual transmission) because there's no twin-clutch gearbox capable of working with an engine that revs to 11,000rpm," said Moers. "We will have four electric motors - one for each front wheel, one on the crankshaft and one on the engine turbocharger. We will use the same 'perfomance' battery cells as the F1 cars, which have advantages and limitations; but we will still be able to deliver 30km of EV range. And our target for kerbweight is 1300kg 'DIN'"
Moers has previously confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will join the team of development drivers testing prototypes of the car, but only "when the time is right".
Mercedes board member Ola Källenius has said the powertrain should be "unique" in the market. At the time, he emphasised that despite its hardcore nature, the car will be able to be driven on the road and will not be a track-only special edition.
Moers said the design target for the hypercar was to create "the most efficient hypercar with an outstanding driving dynamic capability, not necessarily the most powerful". When asked what he meant by ‘efficient’, Moers simply replied: "In every respect", which indicates an unprecedented combination of power, light weight and low fuel consumption.
Having already confirmed a headline power target for 'Project One' of 1000bhp, Mercedes-AMG should therefore be dropping the hypercar into the market with a 770bhp-per-tonne power-to-weight ratio. That's enough to narrowly beat the equivalent figure of the new Bugatti Chiron, although it does threaten to leave the AMG a little adrift of the car that must be imagined as its closest rival - the Aston Martin Valkyrie - whose 900bhp hybrid V12 powertrain is expect to motivate a car weighing less than a tonne overall. It remains to be seen how much torque either the Mercedes-AMG or the Aston Martin will produce, of course.
Moers is not ready yet to talk about acceleration targets for the car, but he did hint at top speed potential. "This will not be a top speed car," he said. "We will certainly be beyond 350kmh (217mph) but to go far beyond that brings too much compromise for me: to tyres, to aero & to handling balance."
The Mercedes-AMG hypercar was originally confirmed by the company's head of research and development, Thomas Weber on the eve of the Paris motor show in late September 2016.
"I am very excited to officially confirm: our next big thing at AMG is already in the pipeline," said Weber. "We are going to create an AMG performance hybrid featuring our Formula 1 drivetrain technology. Under the lead of AMG, our performance companies will join forces and create the most efficient and, at the same time, the best-performing and most spectacular AMG of all time; some might even call it a hypercar.
"But no matter what you call it, it will definitely show how we will take our performance brand into the future with extremely efficient and intelligent drivetrain technology. Of course, there will be no compromises in terms of the emotional appeal of this car."