Ferrari has chosen Detroit as the venue for the presentation at a biofuel-powered F430 Spider in recognition of growing interest in North America in alternative sources of energy. The development of an engine powered by the biofuel E85 comes as part of a research and development program announced during the Technological Innovation Conference held at Maranello last June as part of our 60th Anniversary Celebrations. On that particular occasion, Ferrari also unveiled projects focused on improving the energy of the whole car which would in turn lower fuel consumption and emissions levels. The ultimate aim being, of course, to cut the latter by 40% by 2012.
The Ferrari F430 Spider Biofuel uses an 85% ethanol mix and was developed with using experience gleaned in competition. In fact, Formula 1s technical regulations demand that petrol (gasoline) with 5.75% biomass-derived content must be used, while the FIA GT and American Le Mans Series (ALMS), both of which were dominated by the F430 GT2 in 2007, use fuels with 10% ethanol. Furthermore, E10 biofuels will be employed in the next A1GP Championship which Ferrari will be supplying with V8 engines.
Once again, in fact, the track has proved an excellent testing ground for innovative solutions which, if successful, can then be passed on to production cars. Such is the efficiency of the transfer of track technology to road cars at Maranello that all of the Prancing Horses cars can already use up to 10% ethanol without any modification whatsoever.
By developing this technological demonstration prototype however, Ferrari has proved category that it can offer the technological solutions demanded by the market demands without impinging on the distinctly sporty, high performance character and supreme driving pleasure of the unique cars it builds at Maranello.
In the case of the F430 Spider Biofuel, certain modifications were made to the fuel feed system and most importantly to the engine CPU to allow the engine use E85. Developing the CPU, two fuels (Flex Fuel) can be used by the engine with the same compression ratio. All of the other technical characteristics have remained unchanged with respect to a standard production engine, however. The use of this type of biofuel and the modifications made have resulted in a significant increase in maximum power output (+ 10 hp at the same rpm) and torque (+ 4%) yet overall weight was unchanged. The advantages to the environment translate too into a 5% drop in CO2 emissions.
Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and
Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea.
Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive. She is a guest contributor for Via Corsa magazine and Vicarious magazine.