Maserati Grecale: let’s talk about technology

The Giorgio platform has seen a lengthening of the wheelbase: what did you want to achieve with this modification?
One of the objectives of the Maserati Grecale was to have roominess and ease of access to the top of the category, even for the rear seats: we managed to get the 99 percentile (the car can comfortably accommodate 99% of people) for the interior space. This large internal volume is combined with medium size and is therefore a significant result, also because the rear wheel arch further back allows you to enter easily even if the rear seats are very far from those in front. The elongated step it also improves comfort and road holding (pitch, for example, decreases) and is also functional to the arrangement of the battery in the future electric version Folgore. The suspension layout remained the same, although adapted for the air suspensionbut the calibration has changed while the steeringwith the same reduction ratio, it is more oriented towards comfort even if it remains anyway sporty and communicative. The Folgore version will have a 400 volt system with two motors one at the front and the other for the rear axle with a 105 kWh battery.

> The engineer Federico De Medio, Maserati “vehicle validation responsible”.

The Grecale is equipped with a fast hybrid data network (CAN-FD and Ethernet) while the stability and traction controls are proprietary and non-standard: is there a link between these things?
Indeed, there is a close relationship between this modern data network and the high performance of our control systems, brought together in the Vehicle Dynamic Control ModuleVDCM – which controls the vehicle dynamics in every direction. The Atlantis High platform (mouths sewn on this hardware, but the previous Atlantis has a 50 billion operations / second processor, 6 GB of RAM and up to 64 GB of flash memory) and this fast data network exceed the limits of load and data -rate of conventional networks. Indeed, the VDCM demands more computing power but giving in exchange sophisticated options that will unfold completely in the electric versions. Already today the VDCM it works differently from conventional stability controls because it not only acts on the brakes, with an invasive intervention, but is so fast that it manages to prevent critical situations, for example by acting directly on the engine, gearbox and AWD system control parameters, minimizing the “step” behavior ‘”of conventional systems. Such a behavior sophisticated it is made possible by the fact that the VDCM manages to coordinate not only the brakes but also the engine, transmission and suspension.

Can you deepen the discussion on the functioning of the VDCM?
The control logics of the system are very sophisticated and required a lot of work for them development. There Maserati Grecale, for example, it estimates the grip of the asphalt even using the outside temperature and if it detects it is very low, it automatically adjusts the delivery in order to limit wheel slip. Individual wheel slip is also taken into account to determine if there is water, snow or ice on the road surface. So the car is capable of self-calibrate for these conditions, even being able to take advantage of the sportiest driving modes on the most demanding surfaces such as snow or ice, maximizing the fun-to-drive and adjusting the intervention thresholds of the various systems according to the actual conditions of the surface. I can say that our system has redundant resources and computing capabilities that will allow you to manage technological evolutions that will involve other “blocks”, starting with the part linked to electrification that we will see on the Folgore versions.

How are the various driving modes defined?
The most extreme mode is the Corsa which, with the V6 of derivation Neptune, guarantees maximum fun-to-drive in all dynamic maneuvers, such as in track use or for drift on the so-called steering pads (the ring tracks used to evaluate lateral grip). This mode allows a lot of freedom, as the intervention thresholds of the vehicle dynamics controls are very high, guaranteeing maximum freedom for the pilot and informing him by means of the ESC OFF indication on the panel that the interventions will be very mild; there is also an even sportier configuration, in which the controls can be completely deactivated by the rider by pressing the ESC OFF button. Already in the first briefings we have established precise connotations for the various driving modewith that Comfort that must make driving on ice easier even for inexperienced drivers.

We have seen that VDCM is transversal, from brakes to suspensions: is it a step towards centralized management of the entire car through an operating system?
Already today, the VDCM controls the braking system, engine, transmission, 48-volt hybrid system, all-wheel drive, active suspension. It is therefore a advanced supplement which also interfaces with the infotainment to display various information such as the inclination of the car, the torque to the wheels and the height of the air suspension. We can say that it represents the first step towards a more advanced integration that will probably guide developments in the automotive sector in the coming years. This current platform of ours is ready to be used several other news which we will launch at a rapid pace over the next few years.

How did regenerative braking integrate with conventional braking?
Integration is important because the feeling to the brake pedal it must always be the same regardless of the type of braking involved. Even in the presence of a 48-volt system with a not very large battery, regeneration is done as much as possible to reduce consumption and emissions. If we add the fact that the system is by-wire (the pressure of the hydraulic fluid is entrusted to an electric pump that “interprets” the driver’s wishes based on how he operates the pedal), we understand how the development was challenging because the system had to be absolutely “transparent” to the driver. Transitions, uncertainties or non-uniformities were not to be perceived and this was possible thanks also to the already seen centralized control between the various “domains”. The more powerful and compact hardware used is an evolution compared to that used by the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.

Which domains will Over the Air updates apply to?
Surely the infotainment part, for example with the installation of Alexa and his skills. The firmware update can also extend to the characteristics of the car: the system could accommodate, for example, others driving mode but it is necessary to deal with the regulatory constraints, which are evolving. Recall that Grecale has its own voice controls, which can be activated with the phrase “Hey Maserati” and whose interactions have feedback in the clock on the dashboard. In addition to the aforementioned Alexa, which communicates with home automation, we also have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless.

Beyond the updates, is it true that the key point is now the software?
The customers to whom Maserati turns to continue to be very attentive to the mechanical characteristics of the cars, but it is indubitable that much today is played on the software and connectivity of the cars. L’importance of digital it is also evident when thinking about the development of the car: the suspension set-up of the Grecale was defined in the simulator (that of the Innovation Lab in Modena is very sophisticated, here to find out more) and we went to the track, for example, only for the final choice between the 3 shock absorber configurations defined via simulation. Previously, you would arrive on the track with dozens of different options and it took a long time to assemble, test them, take them apart and try the next ones. There realisticity of the simulator of the Innovation Lab in Modena allows you to greatly shorten development time with the practical certainty that the car will behave on the road as expected.

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Maserati Grecale: let’s talk about technology

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