Some automakers can’t make up their minds. Or maybe they just like confusing the public. Such is the case with Porsche, which has been playing a back-and-forth game with the whole hybrid 911 idea. First they dangle it out in front of the public, hinting that maybe they are making a hybrid and spy photographers grabbed pictures of what seemed to be a hybrid Porsche 911 last summer.
Then Porsche CEO Micheal Macht comes out and says no, Porsche will not make hybrid versions of the 911 or Boxster.
Now Porsche says they have a flywheel-electric-hybrid 911 GT3 race car to show off at the 2010 Geneva car show. Oh Porsche, how you toy with our heartstrings.
Maybe what they meant was that they won’t make any street-legal, showroom versions of the 911 hybrid. Because the 911 GT3 is definitely not a car made for the streets. While the rear-mounted 480 horsepower supercharged flat-six engine drives the rear-wheels, a very interesting KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) provides a combined 160 horsepower boost to the front wheels for 6-8 seconds. This is accomplished by replacing the passenger’s seat with a 40,000 RPM flywheel that captures and stores kinetic energy from the braking system and then transfers it to two electric motors powering the front wheels. When the driver feels like they need a boost, they press a button on the steering wheel, giving them the extra power to scoot past an opponent.
It is a brilliant, if slightly-terrifying system. I wouldn’t want to be seated next to a large metal disc spinning that fast. But race drivers are a breed all their own. Porsche is apparently claiming the car is a rolling laboratory, and not indicative of a hybrid 911. Yeah right. Maybe Porsche is trying to maintain its street cred, but I think a hybrid 911 isn’t that far off. While the first Porsche likely to get a hybrid system is the four-door Panamera, who wouldn’t want a little boost button on their steering wheels? It would make on-ramps a whole lot more fun.