Ferrari files patent for four-pot engine with an electric turbo

Ferrari has filed a patent application for a unique four-cylinder engine that utilises an electric turbocharger, which may be a sign of the direction the Italian manufacturer plans to take in the coming years. 

The patent application, which was submitted to the European Patent Office and uncovered by AutoGuide, details a forward-thinking setup in which a turbine inserted into the exhaust duct is driven by the exhaust gasses – as per usual – but which has no mechanical connection to the compressor.

Instead, the turbine powers an electric motor that is capable of sending power to the wheels, along with an electrically-assisted compressor that forces more air into the engine.

While the main aim of this configuration is to reduce turbo lag, there is – in typical Ferrari fashion – a focus on enhancing the acoustic qualities of the engine as well.

With the turbine inserted into the exhaust duct, it is able to act as a sort of exhaust valve, although unlike a typical exhaust valve which is either open or closed, the speed at which the turbine spins can be finely adjusted to create the perfect exhaust note regardless of engine speed.

As there is no physical link between the turbine and the compressor, and with the aid of the additional electric drive motor, this also means there would be no effect on performance.

While the patent shows the system being utilised on a four-cylinder engine, there is nothing to say the system couldn’t be utilised on one of Ferrari’s future V8 or even V12 engines.

Were it to end up actually being used on a four-pot, it wouldn’t be the first time one had been fitted to a Ferrari, as in the 1950s the company fitted four-cylinder engines to some of their race cars for the sake of reliability.

There’s also a chance the technology could be in the works for use on an engine Ferrari is developing for another manufacturer such as Alfa Romeo or Maserati – both marques that Ferrari has recently developed engines for.

However, with Ferrari having utilised turbocharging in recent times on the V8 engines fitted to the 488, GTC4Lusso, and Portofino, this may just be a way the company can avoid sacrificing a great noise to gain the many benefits of turbocharging on their next generation of lust-worthy cars.

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