Last week Porsche joined a small group of luxury green automakers with the unveiling of the 918 Spyder, a new hybrid sportscar. The 918 Spyder was designed by the Porsche engineers who build race cars based on the hybrid drive concept, and the automaker is touting this model as their car of the future.
According to the Porsche design team they gained a lot of insight from the models used during the 24 hour Le Mans race which they integrated into the 918 Spyder. The structural concept of the 918 Spyder features a rolling chassis as its basis – a basic vehicle that can be driven even without a body, wihle the concept of the V8 engine originates from the LMP2 RS Spyder race car. The load-bearing structures, the monocoque and subframe are made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer. The all-wheel drive concept combines a combustion engine and electric motor on the rear axle and the second electric motor on the front axle (a concept plucked from the Porsche race team’s 911 GT3 R Hybrid).
For those worried about how going green might effect the classic Porsche “oomph”, fret not. An advanced “boost” strategy manages the energy of the electric drive intelligently so that for every sprint with maximum acceleration, the full power of the 918 Spyder can be tapped into by simply pressing the accelerator down fully. The low center of gravity from the drivetrain is actually enhanced by some green technology; the position of the traction battery directly behind the driver supports efforts to concentrate masses and lower the center of gravity. When the vehicle is started up, the “E-Power” mode is the default operating mode as long as the battery is sufficiently charged. In ideal conditions, the 918 Spyder can cover approximately 18 miles on purely electric power. Even in pure electric mode, the 918 Spyder accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in seven seconds and can reach speeds of up to 93 mph. In this mode, the combustion engine is only used when needed. If the battery’s charge state drops below a set minimum value, the vehicle automatically switches to hybrid mode.
The Porsche 918 Spyder actually has the potential to break many records. The current lap time for the North Loop of the Nürburgring is 7:14 minutes. This time was achieved in the presence of international journalists during test drives in September 2012 – more than a year before start of production. The 918 Spyder prototype was therefore approximately 20 seconds quicker than the Porsche Carrera GT. More test drives on the Nürburgring North Loop will follow. An even more important factor is that the 918 Spyder surpasses previous models and competitors by far in its efficiency as well. As a plug-in hybrid vehicle, it systematically combines the dynamic performance of a racing machine with low fuel consumption. To sum it up: maximum driving fun with minimal fuel consumption.
Photos courtesy Porsche.