Hypercar owners are beginning to discover what Toyota Prius owners have known for more than 20 years. The Prius was launched in 1997 and was the first successful and practical hybrid, becoming the poster child for gasoline-electric hybrid propulsion. By combining an electric motor and small battery pack with a gasoline engine, hybrids are capable of returning greatly improved fuel economy, largely through using the electric motor as a generator and recovering the energy normally lost through braking, storing it in the battery so that it can be used to assist when accelerating.
There is some irony that as successful as the Prius became worldwide, it has often been the subject of derision by auto enthusiasts who found it lacking in excitement and driving enjoyment. Now, those same enthusiasts are faced with hybrid offerings in the top models from such automotive legends as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bentley.
There is a difference, however. Much like the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) used in Formula One racing to provide a performance boost, today’s hypercar hybrids not only use energy storage to save fuel but also to add to the horsepower produced by their gasoline engines to create incredible acceleration. Let’s have a look at what hyper-hybrids have to offer.
Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.