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Porsche Unveils 918 RSR Racer At NAIAS

Posted in Featured, General, Hybrid, NAIAS, Porsche by Kurt Ernst | January 10th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

Image: Porsche AG

There have been plenty of rumors in recent weeks about Porsche unveiling a version of their 918 Hybrid supercar at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. The car’s been given a thumbs up for production by Porsche management, who’ve already thrown down a speculative price in excess of $600,000 for interested buyers. Would we see a more refined version of the Spyder in Detroit? Perhaps a coupe version, or maybe even a very early pre-production test mule?

What no one expected was a Porsche race car, particularly one built as a design exercise with no intended racing series named. Like the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, the 918 RSR uses a flywheel accumulator to produce electricity and power front wheel mounted electric motors. Also like the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, the 918 RSR gets the majority of its estimated 765 horsepower from a conventional internal combustion engine, with electric motors used to supplement power and increase traction under hard acceleration.

Porsche claims they built the 918 RSR to prove the merits of hybrid technology (and test the limits of its endurance) in a racing environment. Porsche has built much of their reputation on the racetrack, so it stands to reason that all new Porsches will need to be tested in wheel to wheel combat. I’d have an easier time buying into this if Porsche built the 918 RSR for a specific series, and told us where and when they’d be campaigning it. Until then, in the words of William Shakespeare, the 918 RSR needs “more matter and less art.”

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2 Responses

  1. Mark Smith says:

    I haven’t seen you guys mention the most interesting fact of this car: They Hybrid Technology. Why? No batteries. Instead they use a flywheel, capable of spinning at 40,000 rpm, sitting right next to the driver. The stored energy in this thing must be impressive because it drives 2 75 horsepower electric motors attached to the front wheels.

    Now, the whole flywheel thing is interesting, but I’m not entirely sure that I want is sitting right next to me. That being said, imagine what that kind of spinning mass does to the stability of the car? Very interesting all the way around.

  2. Kurt Ernst says:

    Mark, I used the word “hybrid” three times in the article – that’s got to count for something!

    I agree that the flywheel / accumulator KERS system is pretty cool, and it does indeed eliminate the need for heavy and complex battery systems. From what I understand about the GT3 R Hybrid, the system only provides a temporary boost in power and a minimal fuel savings. If Porsche can develop it into a practical and beneficial parallel hybrid technology, I can see it as a huge competitive advantage.

    I’m skeptical only because mega-dollar F1 teams (Ferrari and McLaren, for example) have been unable to develop an effective KERS system. If the best minds (and deepest pockets) in F1 can’t do it, it’s going to take Porsche time to sort it out.