In an automotive landscape seemingly dominated by manufacturers rushing to push out mass market electric vehicles, Mercedes-Benz used the Frankfurt Auto Show to take the wraps off an extreme high performance two-seater that incorporates technology used in its Formula One program. The Mercedes-AMG Project One promises 1,000 horsepower from its racing-inspired powertrain mounted amidships in a slippery body shell that will help this supercar hit a top speed of 217 mph.

“Motorsport is not an end in itself for us,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz Cars in unveiling Project One. “Faced with intense competition, we develop technologies from which our production vehicles also subsequently benefit. We are drawing on our experiences and successes from three constructors' and drivers' world championships to bring Formula 1 technology to the road for the first time: in Mercedes-AMG Project One.” Mercedes says the Project One is the first vehicle with Formula One underpinnings that is approved for road use by Britain’s Ministry of Transportation (MOT).

As the world’s fastest plug-in hybrid, the Project One uses a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 engine directly from the company’s Formula 1 car. Mounted just ahead of the rear axle, the engine drives the rear wheel. Its output is supplanted by three 120 kW electric motors, one mounted directly to the engine as well as two additional motors on the front axle, each driving a front wheel for a combined power output of at least 1,000 horsepower.

The vehicle is also equipped with a lithium ion battery pack positioned behind the front axle, which is recharged either through regenerative braking or a plug and allowing the Project One to operate in a purely electric mode.

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Sleek shape

As to be expected from a supercar of this pedigree, the body is sleek and aerodynamic with butterfly opening doors. The cab forward Project One has a wasp shape body with a long tail that helps provide stability at high speeds. The nose of the car features large lower inlets giving it a hunkered down aggressive road presence.

“The Mercedes-AMG Project One is the hottest and coolest car we have ever designed,” said Daimler Design Chief Gorden Wagners. “It combines our design philosophy of Sensual Purity with the performance of our Formula 1 racing cars and is the perfect embodiment of Performance Luxury. This hypercar's extreme design marks a milestone in design -- there are no lines, and the interior is stripped down to the essentials.”

Inside the two-place cabins, the seats themselves are integrated into the monocoque and yet have adjustable backrests. There are two 10-inch screens, one in front of the driver and the other in the dash center and beneath it are two ventilation nozzles suspended like a gondola. Like a Formula One car, the interior is stripped to its bare essentials and many of the controls and switches are contained in an F1-style steering wheel.

With its MOT approval, Mercedes-AMG said it will produce 275 vehicles priced at $2.72 million each. On the U.S. side of the ledger, 55 Project One models will be coming to the States, arriving in 2019.

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