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Mercedes-AMG to use Project One tech for series-produced models

by Ronan Glon

Formula 1 components are coming to a Mercedes-AMG showroom near you.

The Mercedes-AMG Project One is a rolling laboratory of Formula 1 components tweaked just enough to meet street-legal standards. The firm's head honcho revealed some parts of the powertrain will seep down into regular-production models in the coming years.

Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers told British magazine Autocar the Project One (pictured) is a "front-runner" for other models tentatively scheduled to arrive in 2020 or 2021. It gives AMG "a lot of options" as it studies ways to integrate an ever-increasing degree of electrification into its ever-growing lineup.

Moers stopped short of revealing what he has in mind. However, Autocar speculates it's the electric part of the hybrid powertrain that's most likely to make the transition from limited to series production. Namely, the four electric motors and the lithium-ion battery pack that feeds them.

One of the electric motors zaps the turbocharger into action. Another one lives in the rear driveshaft, while the last two motors power the front wheels. The through-the-road hybrid system provides all-wheel drive without a physical connection between the front and rear axles. Transferring it from the Project One to another car is easier said than done, though.

As it stands, it's not possible to pluck the drivetrain from the One and drop it into the body of a C-Class, for example. The combustion engine takes up the space required by the front electric motors; AMG would either need to move it back, placing it well into the passenger compartment, or mount it somewhere behind the driver. Neither scenario looks likely.

The solution would work well in another mid-engined car, but it doesn't sound like AMG has one in the works. Another option, one that's more feasible than the last two, would be to mount it backwards in a front-wheel drive model like the A-Class. The car's transversally-mounted four-cylinder would spin the front wheels while two electric motors would power the rear axle. Nothing is official yet; this is pure speculation.

In the Project One, the gasoline part of the equation takes the form of a turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 engine that's closely related to the unit that powers Mercedes-AMG's Formula 1-winning car. Though interesting and highly advanced, it's unlikely to power other street-legal cars for reasons linked to cost and complexity.

Photos by Ronan Glon.