Porsche 918 Spyder: Stuttgart tests prototype of super sporty plug-in hybrid

Porsche 918 Spyder: Stuttgart tests prototype of super sporty plug-in hybrid

We’ve been hearing a lot lately of what Porsche “might” be producing, and while we’ve gotten our hopes up — and subsequently dropped — with all the speculation surrounding cars like the Pajun and a new entry-level Boxster-like coupe, we don’t have to wonder when it comes to the company’s latest news. That’s because the venerable German sports car maker officially announced this week that it has taken to the road with an early prototype of its highly anticipated 918 Spyder.

Easily the most excited thing about the 918 is the fact that it will indeed be a plug-in hybrid. For those that might need a refresher, the 918 will be Porsche’s first foray into the hybrid sports car market and will feature a beefy 500-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 engine in addition to the car’s set of twin electric motors that are said to deliver an additional 280 horsepower for a combined output of 780 horses.

Performance estimates are just that, estimates, but Porsche is hinting that the 918 Spyder will make the dash from 0-60 in the just 2.9 seconds and carry a top speed of 210 miles per hour. The electric motors alone are said to propel the sporty plug-in hybrid at speeds well beyond your typical hybrid. We’re talking up to 94 mph, which would be impressive to say the least.

Porsche 918 Spyder Prototype Side

Of course, part of any hybrids mandate is fuel economy. Thankfully, and rather impressively, the company’s upcoming mid-engined hybrid will deliver in this regard, too. Mileage return should enter in the region of 78 miles per gallon, although, whether that reflects European standards as opposed to EPA standards remains to be seen. If it is European standards, expect that figure to drop a little. Porsche has yet to indicate whether its inaugural plug-in hybrid will travel on battery alone, if at all, or whether drivers will be able to dictate electric motor usage while in the city — as opposed to highway driving where fuel return is typically worse.

In addition to the plug-in charging system, Porsche has indicated that the lithium-ion batteries used in the Porsche 918 Spyder will be able to recharge thanks to regenerative breaking technology, as well as excess engine output while the car is coasting. Charging time estimates have not been given.

But it isn’t just the powertrain that has received attention from industrious engineers at Porsche’s headquarters in Stuttgart. The chassis of the 918, particularly the materials used in its construction, is a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic monocoque. Typically, powertrains consisting of electric motors and batteries serve to increase overall vehicle weight, but thanks to the 918’s use of magnesium and aluminum throughout its frame, the weight of car has been kept to 3,300 lbs.

Porsche 918 Spyder Prototype Rear

Production for the 918 Spyder is scheduled to begin at the end of September 2013, with Porsche stating that buyers can look forward to deliveries of the first examples by the end of 2013. As to be expected, the plug-in hybrid sports car will command a princely price tag, which Porsche has indicated will start at $845,000.

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