Electric Porsche

When Porsche first revealed its conceptual 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar at the 2010 Geneva Motor Expo, media and patrons alike were absolutely taken aback by it. Not only was the Porsche absolutely beautiful and aggressive while maintaining hints of traditional styling, but it had something the world had never seen before: a 500-horsepower V8 working with not one, but two electric motors producing an additional 218 hp or 160kW of output to all four wheels, with the ability to travel 16 miles on electricity alone. Better yet, it could move. Fast.

Porsche claimed that the 918 Spyder possesses the capability to launch itself from 0-100 km/h in a blistering 3.2 seconds. And because of its moonshot of a drivetrain, it could return an incredible 3.0 L/100 km based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). These seemed like numbers only a concept car could produce. But Porsche left everyone with a feeling of excitement, and amazement when the company announced that it will build the 918 Spyder just like the concept. 

Fast forward to today, where select members of the automotive media at-large were invited to Nardo, Italy, for a sneak peek look at how Porsche’s progress of the world’s first supercar that can be plugged into a wall outlet is coming along.

No. This Mad Max-inspired mashup featured in the video done by EVO Magazine of mismatched 911 paneling for a body is not the finished product. Far from, in fact.

To point, the powertrain of the upcoming 918 was only configured at the time to produce 50-percent of what’s available – which still equated to 400 hp and a redline of 6,000 rpm. And because of the raw presentation, the top speed was limited to just 80 mph.

When the finished product makes its way to market, here’s what to expect:

  • A sky-high $800,000 price (USD), and $200k deposit
  • There will be over 50 CPUs in controlling the vehicle’s functions
  • The electrical system alone took 9 months to develop
  • Every single light in the 918 will be an LED, from the headlamps to the interior and everything between
  • The passenger sits 20mm further forward than the driver — for better weight distribution
  • The seven-speed PDK transmission is shared with the new 911 — but has been flipped upside down to fit the 918
  • Every body panel is carbon fiber, except the bumpers — for weight reduction
  • There’s a “Manufactured in Flacht” sticker on the back as a reminder that Porsche Motorsport is the main developer
  • Two detachable carbon fiber targa panels will be utilized in the design.
When finished, the production version will tip the scales at less than 1,678 kg, nearly 80-percent of the weight is below the centerline of the car, giving the 918 a fantastically low center of gravity. Additionally, the entire chassis is a mix of carbon fiber and aluminum, including the passenger compartment and associated crash structure, which weighs in at a mere 220 kg.
Carbon fiber assembly has come a long way since Porsche Carrera GT (which also utilized a carbon fiber tub). 10 years ago, it took Porsche took five days to make the GT’s chassis. Today, Porsche and birth up to five 918 tubs a day thanks to new innovations in composites and assembly methods.

When powertrain development is completed, Porsche says that the 918′s 4.6-liter V8 (originally fitted to the three-time ALMS LMP2 Championship-winning RS Spyder) will produce an amazing 570 hp. Add the power of the front-mounted 80 kW motor and the rear-mounted 90 kW motor, and the 918 produces 770 hp. Seven hundred and seventy horsepower. From the factory.

If there’s enough power in the  liquid-cooled, lithium-ion batteries,the 918 can achieve 145 km/h without using a single drop of fuel, rocketing all the way to 325 km/h.

For better cooling, the V8′s titanium exhaust outlets send spent hydrocarbons out and over the engine into a muffler fitted atop the engine. This method ensures that heat in the engine compartment is kept to a minimum and – serving both form and function.

The first of 918 production examples are expected to launch September 18, 2013.


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