When most people think of hybrid cars, they imagine practical, mild-mannered vehicles. But could we someday see hybrid racecars burning up the tracks?
In March of 2010, Porsche (www.porsche.com/usa/) unveiled three hybrids at the Geneva Auto Show: one for the road; one for the race track; and one that is a genuine Porsche supercar. These innovative new Porsches — the Cayenne S Hybrid, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid and the 918 Spyder — show that hybrids can be sporty, fast and powerful.
The Cayenne S, Porsche’s first production hybrid car, features a sophisticated parallel full hybrid system with the combined power of a 380 horsepower V6 combustion engine and an electric motor. The car has the potential to significantly enhance fuel economy at high speeds — when the driver lifts off the accelerator at cruising or highway speeds, the gasoline engine can be switched off and disengaged from the drivetrain. This enables the vehicle to move without combustion or electric power.
The GT3 R’s innovative hybrid technology has been developed especially for racing. The front axle features two powerful electric motors that supplement the car’s 480 horsepower, naturally aspirated four-liter flat-six that drives the rear wheels. Instead of the heavy batteries found in hybrid road cars, an electrical flywheel power generator resides next to the driver to deliver energy to the electric motors. The 911 GT3 R Hybrid competed in the 24 Hours on the Nordschleife of Nürburgring in May 2010, leading for eight hours before retiring after 22 hours and 15 minutes for mechanical reasons. In the 2010 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta it finished 18th out of a starting field of 41 cars.
With the 918 Spyder high-performance mid-engine concept hybrid sports car, Porsche is displaying its expertise in the field of highly efficient and low-emission drive technology. The 918 Spyder prototype with plug-in hybrid technology combines high-tech performance features with electric mobility to produce a fascinating range of qualities. It has an ultra-compact car’s emission levels of 70 grams of CO2 per kilometer, and it consumes just three liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, but can go from 0 to 62 mph in just under 3.2 seconds and reach a top track speed over 198 mph.