If you thought hybrids were dull, check out this petrol-electric car: the new Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid. Due to bow in at the 2010 Geneva motor show, the hybrid Porsche will race at the Nurburgring 24hrs in May 2010 as an experimental green race car.
Porsche calls it 'Porsche Intelligent Performance' – a marketing phrase we're bound to hear more of, as Zuffenhausen develops its hybrid technology to dispel fears of the long-term future of sports cars. Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid: the tech story
The hybrid 911 takes a conventional GT3 R race car and adds an electrically powered front axle. Two electric motors each developing 60kW turn the front wheels, complementing the flat six's 473bhp slingshotting the rear axle. Four-wheel drive adds the usual traction gains for a race car, points out Porsche.
However, this is no full hybrid. Instead of a bank of heavy batteries to upset the balance of a racer, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid has an electric flywheel power generator to create short bursts of electricity to drive the front axle. The generator sits next to the driver in the cabin, ruling it out for production vehicles in the short term.
The flywheel generator acts as an electric motor – its rotor spins at up to 40,000rpm and stores energy mechanically as kinetic energy. It's charged during braking when the individual front electric motors double up as generators, and then releases up to 120kW of electricity for short bursts of around 6-8 seconds. Ideal for overtaking manoeuvres on track, then.Sounds complex!
Yes, but it's essentially like the Flybrid concept that's been kicking around for a while. In a nutshell, energy that would otherwise have been wasted as heat during braking is converted into additional drive power.
It'll certainly make for a Silent Assassin on race tracks, when a burst of silent power could add a competitive advantage.911 racing history
Porsche points to its long racing pedigree: the 911 has notched up more than 20,000 victories in 45 years of competing in motorsport around the globe. And it's not the first Porsche hybrid sports car – the Lohner Porsche Semper Vivus was developed by founder Ferdinand Porsche 110 years ago.