Tony O'Kane | Mar 6, 2009

Break out the patchouli folks, Ferrari's developing a hybrid.

With Ferrari's president Luca di Montezemolo pledging the brand will cut its fleet emissions by 40 percent by 2012, the race to design, refine and manufacture a workable performance-oriented hybrid system is well-and-truly underway.

But don't think the Prancing Horse is going the way of the Prius. No, rather than rely on heavy batteries and electric motors, Ferrari is instead testing a 599 GTB with a version of the Formula One-derived Kinetic Energy Recovery System hooked up to its drivetrain.

Ferrari KERS

Ferrari's system recovers the vehicle's energy during braking by channeling it via a CVT gearbox into a flywheel.

Low friction bearings preserve the flywheel's energy until the driver demands a burst of power, at which point the CVT gearbox transfers the flywheel's stored energy back to the wheels.

The technology is currently being tested in a road-going 599 GTB Fiorano, however that doesn't mean the luxurious V12-powered GT car will be featuring it on its options list in the future. The first production Ferrari hybrid isn't slated to appear until 2015, and odds are the 599 will be long gone by then.

Ferrari isn't putting all it's eco-friendly eggs into the one KERS-branded basket, however, with the company also investigating the suitability of a twin-turbocharged V6 for its future models.

Ferrari aficionados brought up on a diet of howling V12s and manic V8s may cringe at the thought, but it's pleasing to hear that even the most hedonistic of automotive brands is taking the environment (semi) seriously.

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