Mercedes-AMG Project One hybrid unveiled at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show: Everything we know

Mercedes has unveiled the Project One hypercar, and it’s as extreme and ridiculous as you’d expect. Revealed at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, the new car was unveiled by Daimler and Mercedes boss Dr Dieter Zetsche, with a little help from three-times F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The actual specs of the car are ridiculous: Mercedes says the Project One can produce more than 1,000hp, and a top speed above 350km/h. And that’s mainly because it’s an F1 car in road car clothing.

“The Mercedes-AMG Project One is the first Formula 1 car with MOT approval. Our highly efficient hybrid assembly stems from motor racing and the electrically powered front axle generates a fascinating mixture of performance and efficiency,” said Ola Källenius, member of the Daimler board of management responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development.


At its heart, the Project One is powered by a mid-mounted, turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 internal combustion engine (ICE) – just like today’s F1 cars – but everything around it is a little different. The engine can only rev to 11,000rpm – a few thousand short of the F1 car, and the car also has four electric motors in total.

One of those motors has been integrated to the engine’s turbocharger, and another installed to the ICE, while two more drive the front wheels – effectively making the Project One a four-wheel drive.


No lag

Conventional turbochargers work by using exhaust gasses to ram further air into the engine, but they only really get up to speed when the engine is already running fast – meaning there’s usually a time lag between when you want the power boost and when you get it. F1 cars use an electric motor to spool up the turbo in advance, and that’s exactly how the Project One does it, too. The result? Mercedes says the Project One’s powertrain has a shorter reaction time than a naturally aspirated V8.


The electric turbocharger also takes leftover energy from the exhaust system to generate electricity, either storing it in the car’s lithium-ion battery or sending it to a 120kW electric motor directly mounted onto the engine itself.

The hypercar’s front wheels are also powered by two further 120 kW electric motors, giving three huge benefits. First, the car becomes four-wheel drive; second, it means the car redistribute power intelligently to where there’s more grip; and third, it helps with energy saving.


Mercedes says axle motors are way more efficient for recovering energy usually lost while braking, and its engineers estimate that to 80% of braking energy can be recovered.


The last and probably least shocking aspect of the Project One is its appearance. Designed primarily for efficiency and featuring movable aero, the new Project One doesn’t look as extreme as most hypercars in 2017 – and doesn’t even resemble the Mercedes AMG GT – the brand’s current supercar, either.


“The Mercedes-AMG Project One is the hottest and coolest car we have ever designed. 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,” says Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Daimler. “This hypercar’s extreme design marks a milestone in design – there are no lines, and the interior is stripped down to the essentials.”

The road to Frankfurt

Announced at Paris Motor Show

First, at the Paris Motor Show,

Mercedes revealed the existence of the Project One.

Tobias Moers, chairman of AMG, told our sister site Auto Express that power would have to be dropped compared to the F1 car, but combined horsepower output would still be into four figures.


In addition, Ola Källenius, Mercedes’ sales and marketing boss told Auto Express: “We have started development on this car and what is going to be absolutely unique about it, which nobody has ever done and very are capable of doing, we are going to take the F1 powertrain and put it in a road car.”


As I found out in my interview with Andy Cowell, managing director of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, F1 is as much about efficiency as power – and it looks like Mercedes is taking that thinking to the road. “As we said in the past, as soon as AMG steps into a new segment we have a very clear expectation,” said Moers. “Our target is to have the most efficient, not necessarily the most powerful, hypercar on the market with outstanding driving capability.”

Powertrain reveal

At the annual N24 race at the Nürburgring, Mercedes decided to reveal more about the Project One’s powertrain – and it was more similar to the F1 car than we thought. Just like the Formula 1 car, we discovered the Project One will use a turbo-powered 1.6 V6 engine, but it’ll only rev up to 11,000rpm – 2,500rpm less than the actual race car.


Mercedes says the engine has a thermal efficiency of 40%, which is pretty much unprecedented for a road car, and the ICE (internal combustion engine) alone can create 750hp. That’s a huge figure for such a small engine, especially when you consider old F1 V10 engines were capable of a very similar output.

According to Auto Express, up to 275 examples of the car will be made, and most of them have already been sold.

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