The Mercedes-AMG Project ONE will celebrate its world premiere at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt: for the first time, the two-seater supersports show car brings the very latest and efficient, fully-fledged Formula 1 hybrid technology from the race track to the road almost par for par to represent the highlight of AMG’s 50th anniversary. This high-performance hybrid produces over 1,000 hp and reaches top speeds beyond 217 mph. The show car combines outstanding racetrack performance and day-to-day suitable Formula 1 hybrid technology. This is a world first.
The overall responsibility for the realization of Project ONE lies with Mercedes- AMG. The complex development work was carried out in close cooperation with the Formula 1 experts at Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth and with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula 1 team in Brackley. Together with the four-door AMG GT Concept, the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE show car provides another insight into the future performance-hybrid drive strategy of the sports car brand within Mercedes-Benz.
The concept car gives specific indications of what to expect from the upcoming production model. “The hypercar is the most ambitious project we have every undertaken. It marks yet another pinnacle of the successful, strategic development of Mercedes-AMG towards a performance and sports car brand. Project ONE raises the bar in terms of what is currently technologically feasible and thanks to its combination of efficiency and performance it represents an absolute benchmark. At the same time, Project ONE provides an outlook on how AMG will define driving performance in the future,” Tobias Moers explains as the Head of Management at Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
Powertrain: one turbocharged engine and four electric motors
The high-performance plug-in hybrid drive system of the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE comes directly from Formula 1, and was realized in close cooperation with the motorsport experts of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth. It consists of a highly integrated and intelligently networked unit comprising one hybrid, turbocharged combustion engine with a total of four electric motors. One has been integrated into the turbocharger, another has been installed directly on the combustion engine with a link to the crankcase and the two remaining motors drive the front wheels.
The 1.6-liter V6 hybrid gasoline engine with direct injection and electrically assisted single turbocharging comes directly from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 racing car. The four overhead camshafts are driven by spur gears. To achieve high engine speeds, the mechanical valve springs have been replaced by pneumatic valve springs. The vehicle is mid-engined (ahead of the rear axle) and it can easily reach speeds of 11,000 rpm, which is currently unique for a roadgoing vehicle. For higher longevity and the use of commercially available “Super Plus” gasoline instead of racing fuel, max engine speed remains significantly below the F1 engine speed limit.
The electric motors on the front axle are also true rev wonders, with rotor revolutions up to 50,000 rpm – current state of the art is a speed of 20,000 rpm.
The very high-revving engine is additionally boosted by a high-tech turbocharger. The exhaust gas and compressor turbines are separated from one another and located at an optimum position to the exhaust side and to the intake side of the V6 engine, and connected to one another by a shaft. This shaft features an electric motor which, depending on the operating status, electrically drives the compressor turbine with up to 100,000 rpm – for instance when moving off or following load changes. The Formula 1 designation for this unit is MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit Heat).
Lightning-quick response, faster than a naturally aspirated V8 engine
The major advantage of the advanced engine: the delayed response to accelerator pedal commands owing to the inertia of the large charger, known as turbo lag, is completely eliminated. Throttle response time is greatly reduced, and is even shorter than that of a naturally aspirated V8 engine. The electric turbocharger brings about another advantage: it uses parts of the surplus energy from the exhaust system to generate electricity, and either stores it in the high-voltage lithium-ion battery as part of recuperation or provides additional drive power by feeding it to an additional electric motor. This motor has been installed directly on the engine and features a link to the crankshaft via a spur gear (MGU-K = Motor Generator Unit Kinetic) – another technology that ensures maximum efficiency and performance in Formula 1.
New all-wheel drive with purely electrically driven front axle
There are also two further 120 kW electric motors at the front axle. Each is connected to a front wheel via a reduction gear. The fully electrically driven front axle allows individual acceleration and braking of each front wheel, and therefore selective torque distribution (torque vectoring) for particularly high levels of vehicle dynamics. With the axle motors, we estimate that up to 80 percent of the braking energy can also be optimally used for recuperation under everyday driving conditions. This energy is stored in the battery and is available for a longer electric range. Each electric motor is controlled by its own power electronics located in close proximity to the electric motors in the floor assembly.
Completely new, automated 8-speed manual transmission
Power is transferred to the rear wheels by an 8-speed manual transmission that has been entirely developed from scratch for the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE. It is activated hydraulically and can be operated in automated mode or manually using the shift paddles.
The basis for the outstanding driving characteristics of the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE is provided by the lightweight, high-strength carbon-fiber monocoque body, the technology of which likewise comes from Formula 1. The same applies to integration of the engine and transmission: both have load- bearing functions and completely support the rear suspension.
The design of the show car is very obviously inspired by the premium class in motorsport. But above all, it embodies the Mercedes-AMG principle that fascination is always linked with function. Every part has a specific purpose. The result is a mid-engine concept, extremely muscular proportions with the cockpit well forward, large wheel arches, a wasp waist and an extended rear end.
“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 Daimler AG. “This hypercar’s extreme design marks a milestone in design – there are no lines, and the interior is stripped down to the essentials.”
The front view is characterized by the large front fascia, the various air inlets of which extend across the entire vehicle width. The trapezoidal center section bears a large, white AMG logo. Above it, on the vehicle body, is the Mercedes star. The hallmark AMG A-wing below the center section creates a silver- colored highlight, and seamlessly transitions into the front fenders.
On the left and right are large, prominent air inlets which are framed by U- shaped flaps and each subdivided by two black horizontal fins. Flat LED headlamps blend seamlessly into the body contours.
The black air outlets in the hood guide the hot airflow around the sides of the driver compartment. This allows the flow of fresh air to pass unhindered across the driver compartment and into the intake tract on the roof. The downforce at the front axle is positively influenced by the automatically extending front splitter and the active ventilation louvers in the front wheel arches, contributing to the perfect aerobalance of the car.
The sharp, vertical spoiler lip and the large, two-section diffuser, which is interrupted by the central exhaust tailpipe, as well as the two-stage extendible rear aerofoil, contribute to aerodynamic efficiency and performance at high speeds. The design of the exhaust tailpipe with its large, round outlet and two further small, round apertures was adopted directly from the Formula 1 cars.
The muscular appearance is further enhanced by the rear fascia with its large, black mesh and carbon-fiber components. The rear lights each feature three rhomboid lighting elements to echo the graphic design of the AMG brand logo, and therefore also the design of the headlamps.
Interior: Formula 1 for two
The interior design concept of this ultimate driving machine follows function on the racetrack, and this is expressed in the radical design idiom. Formula 1 technology is made authentically tangible on both the racetrack and on the road. Here too every detail has a function, with nothing included merely for visual reasons. In the monocoque interior, the reduced components are emphasized in minimalist style both in design and functional terms.
The ergonomically contoured interior has room for two occupants. The bucket seats with adjustable backrests are integrated into the monocoque. The pedals and steering wheel are adjustable, allowing the driver to adopt the ideal driving position. The center tunnel visually separates the driver and passenger areas from each other. It blends fully into the seat sculpture and follows the principle of minimalism with its gently rising contour.
Formula 1-style steering wheel
The steering wheel with flattened upper and lower sections and an integrated airbag offers motorsport functionality, as do the two integrated controllers which can be used to set adjustment functions such as the driving modes and suspension setup, or the LED shift display in the upper steering wheel area.
The door panels are in functional, high-grade carbon-fiber, and integrate smoothly into the sporty interior. As if to mirror the aero winglets of the exterior, the door paneling is visually interrupted to create space for technical implements and a generously concave door center panel. An aluminum cassette combines the air vents and power window switches, which are integrated as deeply recessed rectangles.
The Mercedes-AMG Project ONE: the future of driving performance
The Mercedes-AMG Project ONE is not only an ultimate driving machine that directly brings current Formula 1 hybrid technology onto the road and combines top-class racetrack performance with full day-to-day suitability. Its purpose is also to obtain extensive findings about performance-oriented plug-in hybrid drive technology, further developments of suspension layouts and extended onboard electronics that will later benefit series production AMG cars. The Project ONE team is working hard on successfully bringing this vision onto the road.