INFINITI is technical partner to the Renault Sport Formula One team, with an engineering group embedded within the Renault Sport Racing powertrain development base in Viry-Châtillon, France, aiding the development of energy recovery systems. This partnership led to the co-development of the dual-hybrid technology in the team’s Formula One race cars.
Now, the two partners are exploring the potential to transfer shared technical experience in high-performance electrified powertrains back to the road.
Engineered in collaboration between INFINITI and the Renault Sport Formula One Team, and under development specifically for road use, the Q60 Project Black S prototype features a world-first dual-hybrid powertrain technology. Not only does it harvest kinetic energy under braking; it also harvests heat energy from the engine’s twin-turbo system, making it the first of its kind (technical regulations mean Formula One powertrains harvest heat energy from a single turbocharger).
The test-bed vehicle fuses high-performance dual-hybrid technology with INFINITI’s award-winning VR30 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo engine. It’s unique ‘energy recovery system’ (ERS) contributes to greater power and torque than the engine upon which it is based. Where the conventional VR30 engine produces 298 kW (400 hp / 405 ps), the dual-hybrid powertrain prototype generates 420 kW – equivalent to 563 hp or 571 ps.
The prototype’s powertrain employs three motor generator units (MGU). A single MGU-K (‘K’ stands for ‘kinetic’) unit harvests kinetic energy from braking. Uniquely, the engine’s twin turbochargers are fitted with two MGU-H (‘H’ for ‘heat’) units, to harvest heat energy from exhaust gases. This enables the powertrain to generate electrical power under both braking and acceleration.
Electrical energy harvested by the three MGUs is stored in a high-rate discharge 4.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, located in the rear compartment. As in a Formula One powertrain, the power recovered by the MGUs and stored in the battery pack is deployed in two ways. Firstly, it acts as an electrically-assisted anti-lag system, spooling up the turbine blades within both e-turbos more quickly and rapidly increasing the amount of air recirculated back into the engine to boost power. Secondly, energy stored in the battery can be used to power the MGU-K, feeding up to 120 kW of additional electric power directly into the drivetrain. The dual-hybrid technology therefore enables a significant increase in performance, for instantaneous, lag-free acceleration.
In the development prototype, the extra electric power is applied to the rear axle through a newly-designed final drive assembly on the rear axle, which integrates the MGU-K.
The prototype is also the first INFINITI vehicle with full ‘by-wire’ driver controls. Alongside drive-by-wire acceleration and gear shifts, as well as INFINITI’s steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system, the Q60 Project Black S features a new brake-by-wire (BBW) regenerative braking system. Optimized for track and road use, the new braking system replaces the Q60 Red Sport 400’s standard brakes (355 mm front and 350 mm rear ventilated iron disc brakes) with new 380 mm and 360 mm carbon-ceramic drilled and ventilated brakes.
A legalized feature of Formula One cars since 2014, the BBW system is a better match for the Q60 Project Black S prototype’s new powertrain packaging, compared to the donor car’s standard brakes. Integrated with MGU-K regenerative braking, BBW also delivers a consistent, satisfying brake pedal feel and high heat capacity, despite repeated heavy use. The result is to give drivers ultimate confidence in the brakes’ ability to rein the car in from high speeds.
“In 1977, the Renault RS01 was the first to introduce turbocharging to Formula One – a technology that would define an era for the sport. Today, the Renault RS18 uses a dual-hybrid powertrain, honed with INFINITI’s assistance over several years. The Project Black S engineering prototype is the first indication of how cutting-edge motorsport powertrains could be used to create thrilling hybrid cars. Project Black S demonstrates a mutual passion across the Alliance in shaping the future of the sports car.”
Jérôme Stoll, President, Renault Sport Formula One Team
Project Black S represents INFINITI’s commitment to high-performance electrified powertrains, and is a technological test-bed in which high power and blistering acceleration are the ultimate goals. It proposes one way in which INFINITI hopes to draw upon Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance technologies to enable high performance, emissions compliance and range confidence.
The brand’s partnerships will allow INFINITI to offer its customers a thrilling driving experience, whether supported by high-power electric motors, advanced e-POWER electrified powertrains, or even motorsport-inspired energy recovery systems.