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Porsche to produce 918 Spyder

Electrifying: Porsche's new 918 Spyder hybrid will hit 100km/h in 3.2 seconds.

Plug-in hybrid supercar confirmed as Porsche plans all-electric sportscar

29 Jul 2010

PORSCHE has given the green light to production of its mould-breaking 500kW-plus 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar concept, just days after announcing it has also started development of its first all-electric sportscar.

Announced sooner than expected after Porsche AG’s supervisory board meeting yesterday, the widely anticipated decision to build the petrol-electric 918 is a clear sign of parent company Volkswagen’s intention for Porsche to assume leadership in the field of electric sports cars.

Outgoing Porsche AG chairman and president Michael Macht said the seemingly impossible 918 Spyder, which Porsche estimates will sprint to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds yet can return fuel consumption of just 3.0L/100km and Toyota Prius-beating CO2 emissions of only 70g/km, will be produced in limited numbers at its main factory at Zuffenhausen in Stuttgart.

“Production of the 918 Spyder in a limited series proves that we are taking the right approach with Porsche Intelligent Performance featuring the combination of supreme performance and efficient drivetrain concepts,” said Mr Macht.

“We will develop the 918 Spyder in Weissach and assemble it in Zuffenhausen. This is also a very important commitment to Germany as a manufacturing base.”

25 center imageFrom top: Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid drivetrain, Porsche Boxster, Porsche 911 GT3R Hybrid.

Many observers had expected Porsche to confirm production of the mid-engined 918 Spyder plug-in super-roadster, which made its global debut at the Geneva motor show in March, at California’s Pebble Beach Concours next month.

Porsche development chief Wolfgang Duerheimer told Bloomberg at the Beijing motor show that 1000 serious customers would guarantee production of the Geneva show-stopping 918 Spyder concept, which at the time was reported to have attracted almost 900 potential buyers.

“Reflecting the overwhelming response from the public and customers to the concept study, the supervisory board gave the Porsche board of management the mission to develop a production model based on the car already presented,” said Porsche yesterday.

The 918 Spyder will be a spiritual successor to Porsche’s flagship Carrera GT, just 1270 left-hand drive examples of which were produced between 2004 and 2006, at a price of about €450,000 ($A640,000).

While the rear-drive Carrera GT was powered by a 450kW 5.7-litre V10 and officially sprinted to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds, the similarly mid-engined 918 Spyder concept is about 110kg heavier at 1490kg but comes with all-wheel drive, with a 368kW 3.4-litre V8 assisted by an 80kW electric motor on the rear axle and a 40kW motor for each front wheel.

At Geneva, Porsche said it estimated the plug-in hybrid “technology demonstrator” could lap Germany’s famed Nurburgring in less than 7:30, ranking it among some of the world’s finest supercars, yet would also offer a zero-emissions driving range of up to 25km.

Earlier this week Porsche committed to producing its first purely electric sportscar and said it would begin testing three engine-less research vehicles based on the Boxster roadster in early 2011, as part of the city of Stuttgart’s Modellregion Elektromobilität EV program.

“We will definitely be offering an electric sports car in future. But such a concept only makes sense if it offers performance and a cruising range comparable to that of a sports car today,” said Mr Macht.

Apart from promoting privately-owned electric cars, the Stuttgart project will look at a range of low-emission transport solutions, including hybrid buses and an electric bicycle hiring plan and privately owned electric cars.

At the same time, it reiterated its previously confirmed intention to release a hybrid version of the Panamera GT in 2011, using the same (supercharged V6) petrol-electric drivetrain that’s now available in the new Cayenne S Hybrid.

Meantime, Porsche says it also continues to develop the 911 GT3 R Hybrid race car, which made its race debut in this year’s Nurburgring 24-Hour and employs two 60kW electric motors on the front axle to boost its 360kW rear engine. The electricity is provided an electrical flywheel system that recharges a battery under brakes.

Previously, Porsche said a hybrid-powered 911 production car was at least five years away, but has ruled out an all-electric version of its top-shelf sportscar.

However, confirmation that Porsche will test three EV mules based on the current Boxster in 2011 – the same year it is expected to launch a redesigned version of its topless entry-level sportscar – indicates the next-generation Boxster convertible and/or Cayman coupe range could also comprise an all-electric variant.

Officially, Porsche says next year’s Boxster EV trial will help to research user behaviour and the infrastructure necessary for electro-mobility, in tandem with the company’s newly defined Porsche Intelligent Performance philosophy.

“To combine greater efficiency with even lower fuel consumption and emissions, Porsche is working consistently not only on the ongoing development of hybrid concepts already in production, but also using three research cars with all-electric drive based on the Porsche Boxster,” said Porsche.

“These three electric Boxsters will provide an important preliminary insight to new electric drive components and battery systems for all-electric vehicle drive. This field test is intended to also provide further findings on the infrastructure required for electro-mobility, user behaviour and the demands made of future products.” First spy images of the all-new Boxster, which is tipped to feature a lighter-weight fabric roof and panels, have already emerged from Germany, ahead of an expected global debut at Geneva next March.

The next Boxster will almost certainly be larger in most dimensions except height, to make room beneath it for a new entry-level mid-engined sportscar based on Volkswagen’s BlueSport roadster concept.

Although neither model has been officially confirmed – and Porsche appears to have gone cold on its ‘Roxster’ compact SUV project for fear of cannibalising sales of the Cayenne following Audi’s experience with the Q5 and Q7 – the ‘baby Boxster’ and BlueSport platform are also expected to spawn an all- new Audi sportscar dubbed the R4.

Both the next Boxster and its smaller sibling could be candidates for downsized four-cylinder and even turbocharged three-cylinder engines from Porsche, alongside potential all-electric versions, as Porsche strives to meet ever-tightening corporate average emissions regulations in the EU.

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