Green Update–>Ferrari, Audi, Ford, Chevy

December 29th, 2009

Word is out that one of the greatest Ferraris ever, the 599 GTB Fiorano, will get the hybrid treatment and appear at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 2010. According to Quattroruote, the Italian car mag, Ferrari’s first hybrid road car will employ the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) the F1 team used last season. This system uses regenerative braking to recharge the batteries and provide short bursts of energy.

The Fiorano’s V12 engine would couple with a rear-mounted electric motor and lithium-ion battery in the rear, giving a 35-percent gain in fuel economy over the gas-only version. The original car is nothing short of fabulous, according to an Inside Line first-drive review when it appeared in 2006. With the KERS system, it can only get better. Finally, a supercar hybrid that adds more than fuel economy.

Audi will reportedly invest some $10.5 billion in the next two years to develop “new products and future technologies.” A whole new series of cars is planned, including a Q5 Hybrid, which is to appear in early 2011. Back in June, MotorAuthority was one of many reporting the car would be produced; now it seems certain, with an official announcement. Audi still is committed to diesels for Europe, but the hybrid Q5 should be able to penetrate the U.S. market.

Ford says its hybrid sales are way up. The company sold 31,000 hybrid cars through November of this year, up 67 percent over last year. That is an amazing figure, and it represents sales of the Fusion Hybrid and the newer Mercury Milan Hybrid. Ford plans to make up to 2 million electric and hybrid vehicles (10 to 25 percent of its production) by 2020, including the all-electric Focus compact sedan next year and the Transit Connect utility van.

Finally, the Volt, again. But this time Jay Leno is driving it and talking with Andrew Farah, chief engineer on the car. Jay is a helluva talker, as we all know, but he asks very good questions and brings us some interesting history about electrics as they have evolved. The Volt, incidentally, looks, performs, and drives better than we expected.

Well, are you as impressed with the Volt as I am? Share your thoughts in a comment.

—jgoods

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