Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Porsche 918 Spyder Plug-in Supercar Is On Its Way

Published March 21, 2012

By Philippe Crowe

With more than half of its development time completed, the Porsche 918 Spyder is firmly on course toward its limited production run slated for next year.

The German supercar will be powered by a 4.6-liter, 570-horsepower V8 engine as well as front and rear electric modules paired for a combined 770-horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. A 90-kilowatt electric motor is sandwiched between the engine and the seven-speed transmission while the second motor, of 80 kilowatts, is mounted on the front axle, powering the two front wheels.

Yes, you read that correctly: this does make this supercar an all-wheel-drive on-demand.

And with all that traction and power, Porsche says its 0 – 60 mph acceleration is to be in the sub-3 second range with sprinting ability extending well into the triple digits. A speed of 124 mph will be reached in less than 9 seconds and the 918 Spyder will soldier on up to a top speed of 202 mph. The company’s test drivers pushed the 918 Spyder to its performance limits on the Nurburgring Nordschleife and managed a run under the 7:22 minutes mark.

On the practical side, the front motor will get the 918 up to speed and driving around town on pure electricity power for 16 miles. The Spyder can hit 90 mph without using a single drop of fuel with the battery pack fully charged. Porsche used 6.8 kilowatt-hour Lithium-ion batteries – liquid-cooled by a dedicated cooling circuit – made of 312 individual cells. Porsche Motorsport combined ideal weight distribution with low energy consumption items to optimize both performance and energy use.

Developed by Porsche Motorsport, the 918 Spyder will tip the scales just under 3,700 pounds. Most of all for a performance car, nearly 80-percent of the weight is below the centerline, allowing for a very low center of gravity. Every detail counts and as an example, the passenger sits 20mm further forward than the driver. This was done to optimize weight distribution. Energy-wise, every single light is a LED.

The result is expected to be in the 78 mpg range.

A compact charging station will be supplied as standard with the 918 Spyder. This station can be installed permanently in the driver’s garage. It permits rapid and convenient charging within approximately two hours.

A year ago, Porsche said it would build just 918 copies of this exotic plug-hybrid, and reports estimated its price at $845,000 – enough to buy 21 Chevy Volts at $40,000 each, never mind the tax credit, thank you very much.

Depending on your worldview, we expect some green car enthusiasts may scoff, and ask what is the point of such a car? After all, some might say, just because it can troll through Euro green zones and pass a sniff test, does not mean it still can't consume barrels of fuel, and costs – depending on neighborhood – somewhere on the order of an entry level McMansion.

The short answer is Porsche – as is the case for other high-end automakers – is changing to meet new market and regulatory demands, while attempting not to disappoint, and even to continue outdoing itself in meeting customer expectations.

So, if you happen to be one who is anticipating what may be the most over-the-top plug-in hybrid yet, be patient, but if actually planning to purchase, call Porsche quickly to see if you can still get one. Deliveries are set to start in September 2013.


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