Porsche Unleashes 918 Spyder Hybrid Prototype on the Racetrack
March 20, 2012 11:42 AM
Ugly and epic all in one
Many auto enthusiasts had to be concerned when the green movement started and the White House
started pushing ever-higher fuel economy ratings
. It seemed for a while the days of the sports car were over. As time passed, several green vehicles that qualify as bona fide sports cars hit the market. One of the coolest of the green sports car concepts is the Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid.
The first time eyes were laid on the
Porsche 918 Spyder
, most expected it to be nothing more than a concept car. Then Porsche announced that it would be bringing the car to market boasting serious green power and performance at a tidy
$845,000 per unit
. The production 918 Spyder is expected to debut as a 2014, but Porsche has unveiled the first prototype of the vehicle.
The car looks like something Doc Brown would have dreamed up with exposed hoses and rather mismatched bodywork cobbled together from Porsche 911 panels. It's rare that Porsche chooses to unveil a vehicle to auto writers so early in its development cycle, yet that's exactly what it did with the 918 Spyder when it invited members of the press to Italy to ride a long in the hodgepodge prototype. Although body panels may not match up, and some exterior parts are simply missing, the powertrain of the vehicle is ready to run - and run quickly.
Porsche 918 Spyder testbed/prototype [Source: Wired/Porsche]
"The production version will be very similar to the concept car in overall appearance," Frank Walliser, chief engineer for the 918 program, assures us. "There will be some changes, like these tailpipes. This is really just a systems mule that we're using to sort the various gasoline-electric hybrid components and its electronics package before we begin construction of road-going prototypes back in Weissach (Porsche's research and development center in Germany)."
The engine is where all the glory this time around is focused, and the glory seems well placed. The vehicle has a 90-agree V8 similar to the one that was used in the Porsche RS Spyder -- it did well in the American Le Mans series a few years ago with a gain in displacement to 4.6L. The V-8 has a 9200 RPM redline and produces 562 HP.
The car also rocks a pair of synchronous electric motors. One of those electric motors is mounted to the front wheels allowing for on-demand all-wheel drive and produces 107 HP. A second electric motor plugs in between the engine and seven-speed transmission. When the power output of the dual electric motors and the V-8 engine are compiled you get 759 HP with 568 pound-feet of torque.
reports that the car has a special track mode that delivers even more torque at upwards of 700 pound-feet.
The car can go 16 miles on electricity alone at speeds of up to 93 mph. Porsche hasn't come clean on what specific battery pack is being used, but
reports that there are 312 lithium-ion cells in the battery pack rated at a maximum of 202 kW.
The vehicle has settings to operate on gasoline engine alone, electric power alone, and hybrid mode that combines both for absolute performance.
Porsche hasn't offered official performance specs but the vehicle is expected in production trim to hit 62 mph in under 3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 202 mph. The car also promises 78 mpg combined in the European test cycle. Porsche also claims that the car will deliver better than 30 mpg when driven for performance.
Porsche 918 Spyder Concept
“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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