Here’s Why Mercedes-AMG’s F1-Engined Hypercar Is Taking So Long to Build
It’s coming any day now. Really. Seriously!
Straight off the bat, I can tell you two fun facts about AMG's upcoming hybrid hypercar. The first is that while it was announced as the AMG Project One back in 2016, just two years later, they renamed it to AMG One, only to continue referring to the group's halo car by its original name throughout 2019, 2020, and now 2021. I guess it's Project One, then. The second entertaining piece of trivia is that pushing the 1.6-liter V6 hybrid through its validation process already took so long that Tobias Moers, the former boss of AMG we once called the brains behind the hypercar, has already left Affalterbach to run Aston Martin instead.
Yeah, this 1,000-horsepower, multi-million-dollar hybrid's development has been on for a while, and even a company as huge as Daimler can't seem to speed up its journey towards a gas station near you. If at this point you're starting to wonder whether jamming the drivetrain from a 2016 Formula 1 car into a road-going machine has been the best recipe, here's the timeline of what's happened to the Project One so far.
Frankly, this is not the kind of mild rodeo Ferrari went through in 1995 when it decided the F50 should have an F1-derived V12 and chassis. The 2022 AMG Project One brings a number of fairly new elements to the road car table, including turbulent jet ignition that pre-ignites the fuel-air mixture in a pod before it enters the cylinder, electrified turbocharging to eliminate lag, active aerodynamic flaps all over the body, and, of course, an electrified all-wheel-drive system giving the car a front-drive EV mode, just like you get with the Ferrari SF90.
In 2017, less than a year after the announcement and just before the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we had an early chance to take a look at the AMG Project One's chassis, including its 1.6-liter V6 turbo, complex exhaust, battery packs, electric motors and pushrod suspension. Check out what that early rolling chassis mockup looked like:
Already rated for 31,000 trouble-free miles that year, AMG also announced that the Project One's V6 will rev to 11,000 rpm, while its turbocharger is split, having its compressor housing up front while the turbine is located at the rear, connected by an electrified shaft. Additionally, there's a pair of 120-kilowatt motors at the front, an 80-kW one for that instant turbo spooling, and a fourth rated at 100 kW, linked directly to the crankshaft.
With all this tech onboard, the combustion side of the powertrain is supposed to produce 748 horsepower, while the four electric motors add another 408 hp. Combined with the losses and all, that's still over 1,000 horsepower, also known as some 500 shy of what a Koenigsegg Jesko packs thanks to a 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 running on E85.
One issue with the world champion F1 engine is that in race tune, it idles at 5,000 rpm. Brought down to a still road-worthy 1,200 rpm, by 2018, it became clear that the V6 just wouldn't pass emissions without further massaging. As a result, AMG announced that the Project One would be delayed by nine months. Tobias Moers added this much detail at the time:
"Getting a stable idle at 1,200rpm, that’s challenging. To give you a simple example: You have leakage in the throttles in Formula 1 and nobody cares, because it runs at a 5,000 rpm idle. At a 1,200 rpm idle, you have to meet the emissions regulations. You need a stable, proper idle. If it’s unstable, your emissions are unstable."
Regardless, the work has continued and by August 2020, Daimler was ready to send out the following images of its Project One prototype:
Hypercar development is no walk in the park, especially when the product goes global, only to wear a Mercedes-Benz star on its nose. Still, after several short clips of Lewis Hamilton having a blast in a Project One at some proving ground, it would be nice to see a hard launch deadline from AMG instead of teasers. This latest one doesn't even feature Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion with no contract for 2021 just yet.
In either case, take a look at AMG's new livery, then have a wild guess at when the Project One could finally hit the road and share your thoughts below.
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