2009 Ferrari 612 ScagliettiEnlarge Photo
While crosscountry rivals Lamborghini have sworn off diesels and hybrids--at least for the immediate future--Ferrari is said to be at work on a new flavor of four-wheel drive that uses hybrid gas-electric power to generate traction.
Autocar reports that Ferrari's patent application would turn conventional hybrid thinking upside down--not literally, but it would separate the electric motor from the engine. The gasoline engine would power one set of wheels, the charged battery pack and motors the other.
According to the report, the hybrid system could be used on front-engined and mid-engined vehicles. Some versions of Ferrari's patent applications also incorporate in-wheel motors, another technical spiff that has been studied by automakers trying to replicate four-wheel-drive traction while blending in more fuel-efficient electric power.
Future Ferrari sportscars could use electric power to pull away from a full stop, then switch over to gas-engine power--which also would help green up the cars' emissions, since the car could be set up to start the gas engine only after the engine and catalytic converters are primed.