With the entry of the turbocharged Ferrari California T, and Ferrari making it clear that future models would be turbocharged, gone are the days when the Prancing Horse was one of the last bastions of naturally aspirated technology. According to Ferrari, the company will shift more towards V8 engines, with these mills being turbocharged, while the remaining V12s will be paired with hybrid technology but may remain naturally aspirated for some part of the foreseeable future. We’ve also gotten word that Ferrari will follow in the footsteps of Audi and develop electric turbo technology for road cars. The move makes sense for Ferrari, who already has a leg up as far as this technology is concerned, due the the fact that its Formula One racing team employs it already.
This design will use an electric motor to drive the turbo at lower rpm, until engine output is sufficient to drive the turbo by exhaust gases. Now, instead of waiting for the exhaust gases to reach a suitable level, power is available almost instantaneously. In Audi’s design, the electrified turbo, which would be the smaller of the two in a twin turbo layout, would draw power from energy gained by regenerative braking(KERS) systems, so that no engine power is used to spin it; Ferrari may or may not employ a similar approach. We don’t have any information about what kind of a battery pack will be employed to store this energy, however. The concept could also be used in conjunction with hybrid car technology, as energy could be diverted from the primary battery packs to spin the electric compressor.
The incredible potential of this technology is obvious. Reducing the lag inherent to turbocharging would aid in acceleration, as well as cornering, when rpm levels drop significantly due to braking. Audi reports significant improvements in both of these categories. Audi’s design may even overpower superchargers at lower outputs, as since electricity is already on hand, delivery could be near instantaneous. The technology still has yet to be explored in depth, and it hasn’t been applied to any production vehicle yet; it has been used in certain racing series for quite some time, however. Audi says that the technology will appear on its RS-5 concept(pictured above,) which employs Audi’s 3.0 liter TDI engine. A new version of the 458 Italia is arriving in 2015, and this model is confirmed to be turbocharged, but we don’t have any information on whether or not it will employ the new technology.