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Hybrid-electric Ferrari 599 to be revealed in Geneva

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Italian supercar maker Ferrari will introduce its first hybrid model, the 599, at the Geneva Auto Show in March.

If you don't buy into the migration from internal combustion engines to hybrid-electric powertrains, perhaps you ought to reconsider.

Italian supercar maker Ferrari will introduce its first hybrid model, the 599, at the Geneva Auto Show in March.

The prototype hybrid was confirmed by company chairman Luca di Montezemolo at the presentation of the race team's 2010 Formula One car.

Rumors of a Ferrari hybrid have been swirling around since last year, when patents revealed that the Maranello-based company was working on a four-wheel-drive hybrid drivetrain that uses electric motors to power the front wheels.

That's a tall order, since the gas-only 599 uses a 620-horsepower V12 engine that gets 12 miles per gallon city and 15 mpg highway.

Italian magazine Quattroruote reports that the system will use lithium batteries and an electric motor to cut the V12 engine's fuel consumption by 35 percent.

The company's hybrid system is said to be derived from the kinetic energy recovery system, or KERS, used in the 2009 F1 racing season.

That system takes energy normally dissipated by braking and stores it in batteries, rather than wasting it as heat. It also makes that energy available to the driver: in Formula One racing, the energy is allowed to be applied using a steering wheel-mounted button that delivers an extra shot of 80 horsepower on demand.

The result? More potent and efficient racing, in both track times and gas mileage -- important because one pit stop could make the difference between leading the pack and trailing it.

The Ferrari 599 marks the transfer of that technology from track to road.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure