There’s still a distinct possibility that famed sports car manufacturer Porsche will shovel a hybrid powertrain into the belly of its greatest creation: the 911. At least, that’s according to a report from Automotive News, which spoke with Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller. If approved, it would introduce a serious commitment to experimentation.
Porsche is not new to hybrids. In fact, its fastest street-legal car to date, the 918, is a hybrid. For vehicles that don’t cost nearly $900,000 or more, though, Porsche also offers a hybrid Panamera and Cayenne that retail for $96,100 and $77,200, respectively. But messing with the 911 could have broader implications. As the standard bearer of Porsche’s lineup, and considering it’s the quintessential Porsche, there is a larger frame of risk involved in introducing something that could entirely alter the behavior of the car.
Mueller, however, didn’t seem terribly concerned at the notion that every vehicle in the stable could get the hybrid treatment. “Why not?” he told Automotive News. “That is a technique which we at Porsche are very familiar with, so we can suppose that we could have plug-ins all over the model range, not only to save fuel but also to boost the performance of these cars.”
The publication also noted that Porsche has said about 15% of Panamera sales in the U.S. are plug-in hybrids, and that the plug-in Cayenne will add an additional 10% to 12% of that nameplate’s U.S. sales. However, there’s no guarantee that it’ll offer the same boon to the 911.
The 911, perhaps more than any other car, carries with it a certain degree of expectations. It’s the drivers’ car in every way imaginable, and Porsche has spent decades perfecting the balance of the chassis, the tune of the engine, and the interaction the car has with the driver. We’re not saying a hybrid 911 wouldn’t be a good car — au contraire, it would likely be spectacular — but with so much engineering already invested, fundamentally altering the car may detract from the poise that it already has.
On the other hand, there’s the performance boon gained from the added electrical bits. Electric motors provide full torque at zero RPMs, and a hybrid system can fill the power gaps in the internal combustion engine to allow for a smooth, creamy power curve all the way up to terminal speed. A hybrid 911 would also be a natural fit between the leading 911 Turbo and the 918.
But the tradeoffs wouldn’t be unsubstantial. A hybrid system would require battery packs and more internals, and the system as a whole is far more complex than a “simple” gasoline powertrain. Nonetheless, the 911 will “possibly” be the next hybridized vehicle from the Stuttgart-based company, Mueller told Automotive News, and Porsche’s inner circle is “negotiating about that.” He added, “We are firmly convinced that the plug-in technology is the solution for the nearer future.”
Automotive sentiment, however, is shifting as companies realize gains from being a) greener, and b) faster and more speed-efficient. Ford’s new GT, which should land sometime next year, uses a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 in place of the customary V8. Mitsubishi has been talking about bringing the Lancer Evo back as a crossover SUV. The automotive paradigm is shifting, so a 911 hybrid may not be so out of place after all.
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