The much-hyped Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar is going to offer up a huge amount of power – more than 1000 horses worth, according to Mercedes-AMG head, Tobias Moers.
Speaking at the 2017 Detroit motor show, Moers said the Project One car – a working title for the new hypercar that has previously been referred to as the R50 – will use a formula one-derived powertrain adapted for the road, with 1000 horsepower on tap: that’s a huge 746kW!
“It’s no secret that we are working on a road-going AMG hypercar, powered by our slightly modified formula one drivetrain. A true performance hybrid,” Moers said. “I know there was speculation regarding its performance figure. Let me tell you it will have combined power of more than 1000 horsepower.”
“We just called it the Mercedes-AMG Project One as a working title. When we talk with customers we call it Project One – it has a formula one engine, it’s the one; whatever,” said Moers.
It won’t just a be a hypercar, it’ll also be usable around town. The F1-powered model will have an altered drivetrain with “more than 25 kilometres” of electric range from variable electric motors on the front axle (we presume the 1.6-litre V6 engine from the F1 team garage will power the rears).
Pictured above and top: Images from the Project One brochure handed out to prospective buyers.
“Our powertrain is done by the formula one guys – every week I have my meetings with these guys and I fly more to England than I drive to my office in the meantime,” Moers said. “We work closely together with these guys because they know all about that powertrain. We just fired up the first engine, running it at lower revs and idle speed – which is a revolution for a formula one engine, not idling on 3000 revs.
“It’s complicated, to be honest. It’s a V6 1.6-litre – including all the electric motors, with the turbocharger and the crank,” he said. “Getting a formula one engine street-legal in terms of emissions and stuff like that, is a challenge. It’s going to rev over a five-digit number, the revs of engine: even as a hypercar that’s [high].”
Yes, that’s right: the redline will be higher than 10,000rpm – but he didn’t say how much higher. Racing formula one cars – you know, ones you can’t buy – regularly rev to 18,000rpm.
When asked if there was ever a moment when Moers looked back on the decision to try and adapt this sort of drivetrain to a road-legal car, he defiantly rejected the idea.
“There was no alternative from my perspective. I called last year, or in 2015, and I asked Andy Cowell, who runs the team, I asked him: ‘Could you do me a favour? Could you have a close look, can we make it street-legal, that engine? Is there any chance to do so?’
“Because in my understanding, if AMG, as Mercedes-Benz, brings a hypercar to the market, it should be something really innovative, really different in terms of technology,” Moers declared. “Bringing another hypercar with a V8 or V12 – it’s just another one. This is much more outstanding. It’s a pinnacle of technology you can meet or execute today.”
Dr Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz, said it is the company’s plan for the new hypercar to be the best Mercedes-Benz of all time.
Pictured above: Dr Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz.
“At least according to a specific scale – people have different priorities: some people might not consider that to be the best Mercedes-Benz of all time. But when it comes to performance vehicles, yes, that’s our objective,” Zetsche said.
“Once we decided to rename our formula one activities into the Mercedes-AMG Formula One team, it’s almost a necessary, logical consequence – it’s like the missing link. Of course there’s interaction and co-operation today between our workshops in Great Britain and Germany, and the full potential is already laid out when we basically build a street-legal formula one car. And that’s what we plan to do,” Zetsche said.
Of course, this sort of rig won’t come cheap – estimates are it will be about 2.4 million euro (AUD$3.45 million) – and there will be more demand than supply, too, with “less than 300” units available to purchased, according to Moers.
“It’s something I don’t want to be involved in, but I have to,” Moers said of the selection process that will see the buyers selected for each market, including six from Australia.
“We discuss with our markets – they bring us the prospects, we put all the prospects on the list, and then finally we have to have a discussion with all the involved people… the regions, and they have to come to the conclusion who will get the car,” he said. And even then, the car is “not being handed over to customers before 2019”.
Mercedes-AMG still hasn’t decided who gets the job of building the hypercar – the team at Affalterbach or the powertrain team of the Mercedes-AMG Formula One team in Brixton – ahead of its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show, which will be a pretty sweet way to celebrate 50 years of AMG, with a home-ground party at the biggest auto show on the 2017 calendar.
“We’re just starting discussions now where we’re going to produce it,” Moers said. “It’s not finalised yet.”