RenaultSport eyeing hybrid powertrains
French auto maker Renault’s performance arm, RenaultSport, could be exploring ways to include electric motors into its next generation of cars.
This comes after RenaultSport managing director Patrice Ratti told journalists that he would like to see a full-electric sports car, but that RS was only actively developing hybrid powertrains.
He added that there were still difficulties with fully electric cars such as the weight of the batteries and overall costs, but that these were expected to become less of a hurdle as technology improved.
Hybrid sports cars might sound trendy at the moment, especially after McLaren, Porsche and Ferrari all pinned a lot of marketing and performance gains for their latest hypercars on hybrid technology.
On top of that, the weight of the batteries makes them counter-intuitive as an object you would find in a car that comes without a radio and air-conditioning in the interests of reduced mass. But there are certain aspects of hybrid drive trains that make them very attractive.
For starters, the acceleration achievable with an electric motor is simply beyond that of a conventional petrol engine. That’s because an electric motor produces 100 percent of its available torque instantly, unlike a turbocharged engine.
Electric motors are also relatively small (compared to a combustion engine) and can be hooked up directly to the axle opposite to the one being conventionally powered to grant the car all-wheel drive traits. Lastly, they can be used to reduce emissions if they employ recuperated braking energy to aid acceleration.
Peugeot has actually incorporated all of these aspects into its 308 Hybrid R concept car which will hopefully make its way to dealerships in the not too distant future. As a glimpse of what is possible, it could be worth sacrificing some weight for the hybrid powertrain. And the more manufacturers start introducing hybrid drivetrains, the more the technology will progress.
Hybrid technology does seem to be a natural progression for sports car design, and not a passing fad, especially if it continues to be championed by the likes of more mainstream performance brands like RenaultSport.