Since the 918 Spyder went out of production in 2015, Porsche has been without a flagship supercar. But a new report claims Porsche is working on something even more extreme than the 845-horsepower plug-in hybrid. Autocar reports that Porsche wants to use a discarded Formula One hybrid powertrain in a 918 successor.
Porsche hasn’t been involved in Formula One for decades, so where did it get an F1 powertrain from? The automaker recently considered an F1 comeback, and engine development got far enough along that the leftovers from the program could be used for a road-going supercar, Autocar claims. Autosport previously reported that Porsche had 40 people working on an F1 powertrain program, with the goal of entering the series in 2021.
Porsche opted for the all-electric Formula E series instead of F1, and initially planned an electric supercar using technology from its 99X Electric Formula E race car, according to Autocar. But that project was predicated on the development of solid-state batteries, and Porsche felt the technology wasn’t developing fast enough, Autocar reports. Solid-state batteries are currently being investigated by multiple automakers as a higher-performance alternative to current lithium-ion batteries.
Instead, the Porsche 918 Spyder replacement could use a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 engine with electric assist — just like all current F1 cars. That would make it a direct rival for the Mercedes-AMG One, which uses a powertrain lifted directly from one of the automaker’s championship-winning cars. Aston Martin is working with F1 team Red Bull Racing on the Valkyrie, but that car uses a bespoke hybrid powertrain based around a V12 engine. Croatian firm Rimac is supplying components for the Valkyrie’s hybrid system, and Porsche has a 15.5-percent stake in that company.
The hybrid supercar project could also bring Porsche back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, according to Autocar. Porsche has won the legendary race 19 times — more than any other manufacturer — but withdrew in 2017. The new supercar would fit nicely into new Le Mans rules calling for “hypercars” vaguely based on production models. Aston Martin has already confirmed plans to race the Valkyrie at Le Mans. Reigning champion Toyota plans to develop a new car for the race.
The Porsche hybrid supercar is still in the very early stages of development, and won’t see the light of day until 2023 at the earliest, according to Autocar. If the report proves true, Porsche will have plenty of competition. In addition to the aforementioned Aston Martin Valkyrie and Mercedes-AMG One, McLaren is developing a 1,035-hp hybrid called the Speedtail. Several automakers are developing electric supercars with four-digit power outputs as well.
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