I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Jean-Jacques His, Chief Powertrain Engineer from Ferrari about his work and winning Performance Engine of the Year Award. The award was presented at International Engine Expo /Automotive Interiors Expo in Stuttgart, Germany in early June where GrabCAD held a presentation about crowdsourcing.
What is your background? What are your most notable projects?
Well, I come from the north of France (Normandy) and graduated in engineering in Paris. I started working at the New Engine Design Department at Renault and, at the end of 1983, I was appointed Head of Engine Development for Renault’s Formula 1 team. I was hired by Ferrari to take care of their Formula 1 engine and gearbox development in 1985 and then, in 1986, I moved back to Renault where I was responsible for the V10 F1 engines which were used by Williams and Benetton until 1997. In 2003 I returned to Ferrari as Head of Powertrain for the road-going sports cars.
Obviously my work in Formula 1 was extremely stimulating and rewarding, but designing and developing Ferrari’s road car powertrains has been just as exciting, because we are always pushing the technical boundaries of what can be achieved with our naturally-aspirated V8s and V12s. At Ferrari there is a huge amount of carry-over from Formula 1, not just in terms of materials, software and technology, but also in terms of personnel. Just like myself, many of my colleagues have had the opportunity of working both with F1 and road-car engines, thus the methodology we apply in road car development is the same as used in F1.
What are the biggest challenges in your work?
Ferrari naturally has an incredible reputation as an engine manufacturer, but it's worth remembering that there's no other small volume manufacturer in the world that designs and builds in-house, not just a range of high-performance engines for road cars, but also Formula 1 engines as well. The R&D efforts are immense for such a small company.
Certainly one of the biggest challenges all car manufacturers must face today is emissions. Being a niche, highly specialized sports car manufacturer does not mean you can ignore international legislation, rather the opposite.
Thus we set ourselves a very ambitious goal in 2007 – to reduce average consumption and emissions across our range by 30% over the following five years. We have met and exceeded that milestone whilst maintaining the performance characteristics and driving excitement that are fundamental to Ferrari’s ethos.
Fortunately here again we have the advantage of F1 technology, which we've used extensively in a constant drive to improve mechanical and combustion efficiency in our engines. That same F1 technology, utilizing KERS systems since 2009, has enabled us to develop our first ever hybrid high-performance car, LaFerrari, a limited-series special that produces 963 CV (HP) while producing just 330 g/km of CO2, without resorting to purely electric-only drive.
What does it mean for you to win the Performance Engine of the Year awards for Ferrari 6, 3 litre V12?
2013 was the third year running that we took both the Performance Engine and Over 4-litre categories in the International Engine of the Year Awards. In 2011 and 2012 the awards were taken by the 570 CV, 4.5-litre, naturally-aspirated V8 engine that powers the 458 Italia and 458 Spider and which set a number of records for this displacement and type of engine: highest specific power output (127 CV-93kW/litre); highest specific torque output (120 Nm/litre), and the highest maximum revs – 9000 rpm.
Winning these awards again this year with the 740 CV V12 powering the F12berlinetta was a fantastic result for the company. With this engine we tried to surpass every single performance characteristic of our past V12s and three figures suffice to demonstrate the progress made: 120 CV more power than in the preceding model, a 30% decrease in CO2 emissions and an increase in longitudinal acceleration of 30%.
Does performance engine need a revolution? Are the characteristics and features stretched to limits and we need fresh technology?
I think we have demonstrated that there is plenty of life left in the internal combustion engine. We have yet to reach the limits of its development. Having said that, clearly Ferrari, like other manufacturers, is constantly looking to the future for alternative technologies, and our new limited-series special, LaFerrari, is the best example of that innovative engineering approach.
Technical specifications of the engine
Ferrari f12 Berlinetta
Engine capacity: 6,262cc
Number of cylinders: 12
Power output: 740ps (544 kW; 730 hp)
Bore x stroke: 94mm x 75.2mm
Compression ratio: 13.5:1
All images copyright Ferrari SpA