Porsche 918

Porsche 918 Spyder – Electrifying the Supercar

by Lawrence Romanosky on April 24, 2014

Porsche 918 Spyder on the trackI finally got a chance to visit Road Atlanta, the iconic track in Georgia and home to IMSA racing, the Petit Le Mans, and the SCCA Runoffs which I have read about in Peter Egan’s column in Road & Track Magazine going back to the 1980’s. Only this time I was going to be driving a 887hp Porsche 918 Spyder, not a Formula Ford or Bugeye Sprite.

To be honest, seeing the unforgiving run offs lined with imposing concrete walls, the grass soaked from a week of rain and a damp track, I was wishing I could learn the track in a 100hp Sprite! Thankfully I had Cass Whitehead, former IMSA driver and one of the few people in the world certified to drive the 918 by the Porsche Factory, to be my in-car instructor. Cass’s instruction along with the full complement of Porsche Factory engineers and trainers cycled a group of about 80 dealership staff from Canada and the US through an ‘Expert’ 918 program which I was lucky enough to attend, and luckier still not to disgrace myself by crashing the car! This high-level 918 education and demonstration of the finished product proved enlightening and answered a lot of questions that I had about the car.

About the 918 Spyder

It is quite a piece of engineering and arguably the most sophisticated passenger car ever developed. Following in the footsteps of the 959 from the late 80’s, the 918 introduces a host of new technology that will be adopted by Porsche’s volume models in the future. [click to continue…]

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Despite being roughly under two years away, Porsche was still confident enough to show off its upcoming revolutionary supercar, the 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid. This event, held at the recently acquired Nardó test track in Italy, featured only the most prestigious of automotive publications. A few weeks back, we shared with you the thoughts of Britain’s EVO Magazine, but this week features the thoughts and insight of Motor Trend, one of the biggest auto enthusiast outlets in the world.

Notably, the crudely pieced 918 Spyder prototype is far from looking, feeling, or driving like it will during completion. But progress on the 770 horsepower triple-powered super hybrid is very apparent. When finished, the 918 Spyder will look nearly identical to the concept car that was unveiled a few years ago during the Geneva Motor Show.

What makes the upcoming 918 so special is that it promises to do feats that were thought impossible just a few years ago. Things like achieving 145 km/h without using a single drop of fuel, while possessing the capability to reach speeds of 325 km/h. This is made possible by utilizing one of the most advanced drivetrains the world has ever seen: 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 25.7 km on electricity alone.

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.

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.

So, what made Porsche take this route of super high performance and super high efficiency? By watching the video above, which features and interview with Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche’s head of Research and Development, some answers can be found.

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Porsche AG held a conference at their Leipzig facility, home of the Cayenne and Panamera on June 27-29th, 2011. I accompanied Thomas Illner, After Sales Manager from Porsche Canada.

Upon entering the “diamond-like” form of the Customer Service Centre, one instantly knows you are in for something special.

Porsche wanted all the delegates from around the world to “experience” quality first hand, so we were split into 3 groups in the morning and sent on our way. Our group started off on the Porsche test track to drive 911’s, Caymans, Boxsters, Cayenne’s and Panamera’s.

The track consists of numerous corners from various tracks, including the infamous “corkscrew” of Laguna Seca. The lead instructor in a 911 Turbo set a fast pace that allowed some of us (meaning me!) to challenge our driving skills.

We then went to the off road area to test the new 2011 Cayenne on 60% grades and 2 foot deep water crossings. This takes place on a 6 kilometer unspoilt countryside with wild horses and aurochs (oxen) maintaining this natural reserve.

Our final stop (which I considered the most remarkable) was the assembly factory. Absolutely clean and organized, I could have stayed there all day and watched. All the vehicles have a Bluetooth enabled electronic transmitter attached to the drivers window. This relays the exact parts required for each station. The parts then show up at just the right time for the technician to install. The vehicles move on beech wood platforms so no static electricity will ever be transmitted.

We finally headed back for 1.5 days of meetings to discuss the role of Porsche AG in providing the best quality vehicles they possibly can. What was really interesting was the presentations by all the Porsche markets regarding how we (and the customer) see Porsche. Some very interesting facts out of China, they currently have 33 Porsche Centers, and expect to have 126 by 2020! I discovered during this discussion that Porsche will act on a quality issue that affects as little as .04% of the applicable cars. The parent company is keenly aware to constantly improve they must listen to the customer and adjust to changing markets.

I was honored to have been included in this conference. The capability and competence of Porsche and their staff impressed me to no end.


The Diamond


The real Transsyberia


The 918 is even more stunning in person!!

Derek Rush

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