Mercedes bosses have admitted they were “pushed to the limits” by an objective to make a Formula One powertrain suitable for everyday road use, but the outcome is the new Mercedes AMG One Hypercar, and at a starting price of a cool £2.5 million it is the stunning piece of design and engineering you might expect. And furthermore, it is being assembled in Coventry.
First deliveries of the hybrid Hypercar are expected by the end of the year, but details of the car’s design and assembly processes are emerging, and they fit the unique concept which promises to raise the bar significantly in what a hybrid road car is capable of.
Mercedes have likened the Coventry assembly process to that of an expensive watch, whereby everything is carefully assembled to make sure it all fits properly and then dis-assembled to make sure each component is in the best possible shape and condition. And when you are talking about the levels of performance you expect for £2.5 million, no serious motorist is going to argue.
Labour-intensive vehicle assembly
Although all vehicle engines are built by hand, the whole of the Mercedes AMG One Hypercar is hand-assembled using a production line which involves 16 separate stations and 50 specialist employees. This labour-intensive process includes the body being bolted together and then dis-assembled to be hand-painted. The powertrain – which includes a 1.6-litre V6 turbo engine, the battery and four electric motors – is hot tested before being assembled, but the One Hypercar actually goes through the same testing process as your regular family hatchback, including monsoon storm testing to make sure the roof doesn’t leak.
However, the best job within the 50 specialist team members must be the test driver, as every individual model of the 275 vehicles Mercedes are producing must be test-driven on a track before it is cleared for sale.
Mercedes have admitted that the project of combining F1 power and road practicality was at various times both “a curse and a blessing”. And after a difficult development period, which utilised the combined talents of the road car division and the high performance division at their Brixworth headquarters in the UK, the German manufacturers revealed that the production-ready version of the F1-derived hybrid powertrain would produce 1048 bhp. This is powered by a seven-speed automated manual gearbox which has been developed specifically for the One Hypercar. It is combined with an 8.4 kWh battery and four electric motors for the four-wheel drive, and which help to deliver a stunning 0-62mph and an eye-watering top speed of 218mph.
F1 style electric driving
For a hybrid vehicle this might be quite hard for some to comprehend, but it shows how far electric motoring has developed in recent years. An on-board charger means it will take only two hours and twenty minutes to fully charge the motor, but electricity is also harvested on-board via kinetic energy from the braking system and a combustion unit, so you can top-up energy on the move. The petrol unit produces 566 bhp and revs to 11000 rpm, and an all-wheel drive system is fully variable, so you can drive in pure electric mode for up to 11 miles.
Not surprisingly the chassis technology is as advanced as the powertrain. Just like an F1 car, the body work and panels are carbon fibre which helps deliver an overall vehicle weight of just 1695Kgs. There are also three modes (Highway, Track and Race DRS) to improve aerodynamics, so the wheelarch louvres, front diffusers and rear wing can all be adjusted to reduce drag and downforce and make driving faster and more efficient. There are also six drive modes, with ‘Race Safe’ being the default mode and which is fully hybrid, but as you might expect these range from the sensible to the barely legal.
Designed for the driver
Inside the car the design is focussed on the driver, rather than the ‘experience’, and given the sort of speeds the One Hypercar can produce, this is probably for the best. The 2-seat cabin design is sparse, but there are various seat positions to be tried and a total of 11 positions for the steering wheel and pedals. There are also two 10-inch displays, one for infotainment and the other for the driver.
With Mercedes building just 275 models, it is going to be a challenge to get your hands on this £2.5 million Hypercar, but what is significant is that the capability and the technology is there to combine F1 power with road driving practicality and in a hybrid car which is promoting sustainable motoring. If this has been a challenge for Mercedes and it has truly pushed them to the limits, then the world should probably thank them for their efforts.