Frankfurt 2017: Mercedes-AMG Project One - AWD F1 Road Car That Points To Future Hybrid AMGs

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Frankfurt 2017: Mercedes-AMG Project One - AWD F1 Road Car That Points To Future Hybrid AMGs

This plug-in hybrid hyper car represents the chorus of AMG’s 50th anniversary celebrations – the Mercedes-AMG Project One, essentially a road-going F1 car, revealed for the first time at the Mercedes-Benz Night ahead of tomorrow's opening of the Frankfurt International Auto Show.

It goes from 0 to 200 km/h in less than 6 seconds, with a top speed of over 350 km/h. Located in the middle is the same engine used by a Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 car – a 1.6-litre direct injection petrol-electric hybrid unit with electric turbocharging that produces over 1000 hp, albeit with its rev limit reduced from 15,000 to 11,000 rpm in the interest of longevity.  

  

Like the F1 car, the Project One’s monocoque is made of carbon fibre.

In many ways, the Project One is actually better than an F1 car. Where an F1 car is only rear-wheel driven, the Project One is all-wheel drive. Of course, the Project One can accommodate a passenger and some luggage, and it can be driven on the road in regular traffic conditions.

We are not sure if the Project One comes with air-conditioning, because we don't see any climate control switches, and Mercedes-AMG describes those vents in the cabin as ventilation vents rather than air-conditioning vents.

The green-ish hyper car is the result of three separate Mercedes-Benz divisions working together - Formula 1 experts at Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth, England and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team in Brackley, England, with engineers at Mercedes-AMG division in Affalterbach, Germany taking overall responsibility for Project One.

At the moment, the Project One remains as a concept car, hence the slightly vague performance stats. When it eventually does go into production (no timeline given), the Project One will remain as a very exclusive, limited production car.

So it’s not yet a real car, and there’s not going to be a lot of them, so why bother?

Read between the lines, and one will understand the not so subtle hints that Mercedes-AMG is dropping - the next generation of AMG models will be hybrids.

The days of loud V8s are over. Mercedes-AMG doesn’t want to say it in a big way, but it is an expected progression when you consider where the overall auto industry is already heading towards.

“Project ONE provides an outlook on how AMG will define driving performance in the future", said Tobias Moers explains as the Head of Management at Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

The next generation of AMG models will certainly offer some form of electrified drivetrain option, and this Project One will make a bold statement that hybrids can become halo AMG models.

The Project One also wears the F1 car's EQ Power+ badge, an expansion of the regular EQ Power sub-brand that is currently being rolled out progressively on all Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid models.

Here are some highlights of the Mercedes-AMG Project One

Four electric motors, including the turbocharger

The 1.6-litre V6 engine uses principles of forced induction but with a very different type of turbocharger – the F1 team calls it MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit Heat).

The turbines for exhaust gas and compressor are linked by a shaft driven by a 90 kW electric motor – the first of the four motors mentioned here. It spins the turbine to up to 100,000 rpm. The result is zero turbo lag, and a throttle response that’s faster than a naturally aspirated V8.

The turbocharger not only recovers lost energy from exhaust gas to compress intake air, but also generates electricity.

The second motor is a 120 kW unit located at the crankshaft, a setup that’s typical of any hybrid car. Drive is transferred to the rear wheels (front axle is electrically driven) via a bespoke 8-speed manual transmission that has been developed exclusively for the Project One, It is activated hydraulically and can be operated in automated mode or manually using the shift paddles. 

The third and fourth motor are located on the front axle, one driving each wheel. It not only provides drive and but are also capable of selective regenerative braking for each wheel, as well as torque vectoring.

The overall thermal efficiency of the drivetrain is about 40 percent, compared to conventional petrol engine’s 30 to 38 percent.

F1 Derived Li-Ion High Voltage Batteries

The high voltage batteries used in the Project One are the same as the Li-Ion packs used in the F1 car, with the only difference being quantity of cells, which has been adapted for a road car. The batteries, DC/DC convertor and other supporting components are mounted on the vehicle floor, behind the front axle.

It also runs on 800 Volts instead of a usual hybrid car’s 400 Volts. The higher Voltage allows for a lower Amperage, which opens up the possibility of using significantly thinner cables, thus reducing size and weight.

EV drive mode is achieved using the front axle only, with a claimed EV range of 25 km.

Active Aerodynamics

As you would expect for any hyper car, the Project One slices through the wind with using quite a few aids.

The rear wing extends in two stages. The louvres on the front wheel arches opens up at higher speeds while an extendable front lip adds downforce to the front axle.

The rear is dominated by a shark fin-like structure, which AMG says improves improves lateral stability when cornering at high speed while two large NACA air inlets ensure optimum guidance of the airflows for the engine and transmission oil coolers located at the rear end. 

Strip away the F1 tech bits, retain the performance-oriented hybrid engine concept, add a more user-friendly body style, and you will have the next generation AMG model that’s aimed at a wider crowd.

We expect to see much of the elements here to be applied on an upcoming Mercedes-AMG GT sedan model, which has already been previewed at March’s Geneva Motor Show.   

Gallery: Frankfurt 2017: Mercedes-AMG Project One



Hans

Hans

As someone who appreciates cars not just for their horsepower value but also for their cultural significance, he is interested in the art of manufacturing and selling cars just as much as driving them. Prior to swapping spread sheets for a word processor, he spent his previous life in product planning and market research.


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