Top level technology has its way of getting around to us everyday-types and the hybrid electric turbos used in F1 racing are no exception. Particularly this, the Magneti Marelli hybrid electric turbocharger system. So what exactly is an electric turbo? It’s basically a traditional turbo backed by an electric motor strapped on. This motor allows the turbo to “harvest excess energy” from exhaust gas when boost isn’t needed, and spool up the turbo earlier when boost is needed and there’s not enough exhaust energy.
Like traditional mechanical turbos, a wastegate is needed to scrub excess boost and exhaust gases, as it is the electric motor maintaining the velocity of the turbine when boost is low or too high. This is how the electric turbocharger excels over mechanical turbos, as it helps control potentially damaging boost spikes. Now, don’t be fooled, they are quite a bit heavier, more expensive and more complicated than regular turbos, which is why they’re nowhere near as popular…yet.
In all, the electric turbo offers zero lag, and operates on any traditional 12-volt battery power before launching (zero or low boost) and between gears (scrubbed boost). Best of all, while under full boost, the electric turbocharger actually charges the battery like a high current alternator!