Apparently its Formula One racers won't be the only Ferraris to make use of electric-boost circuitry to add performance to their gasoline engines. The automaker has applied for a number of patents to cover a new hybrid design that can be used as part of an all-wheel-drive package that will be incorporated into as-yet-unspecified future front- and mid-engine models. Green implications aside, the paperwork accompanying documentation submitted to the European Patent Office indicates that the system's primary function -- in any of several different possible configurations -- would be to improve a vehicle's grip on poor surfaces and not necessarily enhance its fuel efficiency or eco-friendliness index.
The trickest part of this Ferrari package is that it uses a separate power element to energize the wheels on each axle, thereby eliminating the need for the normal transfer case and secondary driveshaft. That aspect of the design makes it similar to Toyota's Hybrid AWD system and the setup being developed by PSA Peugeot-Citroen. At least one of the Ferrari configurations also swaps a single central motor for a pair of smaller individual units that would be mounted in each wheel. In addition to allowing a vehicle to be toggled between rear-drive or all-wheel drive at the operator's discretion the system also would permit it to operate on pure electric power under limited conditions.