Mercedes-AMG's Project One will be a super-complex supercar

Mercedes-AMG Project One powertrain
Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance division celebrates its 50th birthday this year, and it’s giving itself a big present in the form of a hybrid supercar code-named “Project One.” The car itself isn’t expected to debut for several months at least, but Mercedes did offer a peek at the powertrain.

The Project One could rewrite the rules of supercars. Because while some automakers talk about cars inspired by Formula One, Mercedes plans to yank the engine from one of its all-conquering F1 cars and put it in the Project One’s engine bay. As in F1, this 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 will be backed by a hybrid system, which will use four electric motors in the Project One.

Ferrari used an F1-based engine in the 1990s F50, and that car is now considered one of the Italian automaker’s missteps. AMG faces a greater challenge in civilizing its engine for road use, as it’s even more exotic. The engine will rev to 11,000 rpm, and has a thermal efficiency of around 40 percent, compared to around 20 percent for most road-car engines. It also needs a rebuild after 31,000 miles.

The gasoline engine will also work with a complex array of electric motors. The MGU-K (for “kinetic”) will be connected to the crankshaft and help drive the rear wheels, while the MGU-H (for “heat”) will be used to help spool up the turbocharger. Both will also be capable of recovering energy to feed into the car’s battery pack. Two more motors will power the front wheels, giving the car all-wheel drive.

The car will be capable of all-electric driving, using only the front two motors. So this fearsome supercar will be front-wheel drive in electric mode. Mercedes would not discuss target weight, but did say the powertrain will weigh 926 pounds, with about 220 pounds of that being batteries. Total system output wasn’t discussed either, but the Project One will need to have close to 1,000 horsepower to truly make a statement in this era of power-made supercars.

Mercedes only plans to make 275 copies of the Project One, which may wear a different name when it is unveiled. The ultimate Mercedes-AMG supercar is priced at $2.54 million, but the entire production run is already spoken for. The Project One is expected to debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and Mercedes hopes to deliver all customer cars by 2020.

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