Hybrid cars will be used in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) from this year onwards. At the start of the hybrid era at the Rally Monte Carlo, Schaeffler will present the drive system of its subsidiary Compact Dynamics, which will be used as a standard component in the WRC cars.
The decision to run with a standardised system for at least the first three years until 2024 was already taken by the FIA in 2019. The manufacturers – currently Hyundai, Toyota and Ford are active in the WRC – continue to develop the petrol engine themselves. In order to avoid an arms race with the hybrid components, uniform components and software will be used for three years. From 2014 onwards, the technical freedom for the manufacturers is to be increased step by step.
Until then, the Compact Dynamics system will be used. It combines the motor generator, control unit and a battery with a capacity of 3.9 kWh, which is supplied by Kreisel Electric, in a very small installation space. According to Schaeffler, the system weighs a total of 87 kilograms.
However, the unit is not mounted on the engine in the so-called P1 position or as P2 on the input shaft of the transmission, but in a crash-protected position in the middle of the vehicle. From there, the unit is connected to the driveline via a shaft to the rear differential and thus corresponds to the P3 topology.
“During the events, the vehicles are driven in purely electric mode in specified areas such as the service park or so-called hybrid electric vehicle zones (HEV),” says Oliver Blamberger, Managing Director of Compact Dynamics. This was one of the FIA’s specifications from the very beginning.
“In addition to the 286 kW (390 PS) of the internal combustion engine, the hybrid system provides the rally drivers with 100 kW of extra boost during special stages,” says Blamberger. “The traction battery can also be recharged through the recuperation of braking energy during the stages.”
Such a hybrid system, even with the composite housing, will very probably not be used 1:1 in a road vehicle – unlike in motorsport, there it is not just about the additional boost, but also about optimising consumption in part-load operation. Nevertheless, Schaeffler expects the rally to provide insights that will flow into series development. The 13 rounds of the WRC take place in Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania and offer extreme conditions ranging from sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice in Sweden to dust and an altitude of over 2,000 metres in Kenya.
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