Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid Prototype: Factory Testing Update

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Back in the late 1990s, Volkswagen embarked upon the development of its first "three liter" car.

That number didn't refer to engine capacity, but a European fuel measurement of three liters per 100 kilometers--or 78 miles per gallon. That car was the Volkswagen Lupo 3L, a high-tech, lightweight diesel minicar.

The world has changed, and with the plug-in hybrid 918 Spyder supercar, Porsche is hoping to achieve a similar 3 litres per 100 km--despite having 770-horsepower on tap.

Porsche has now announced the first prototypes have been completed. The first production cars will go into production at the end of September 2013, with cars reaching owners before the end of 2013.

To achieve such a mix of performance and economy, the 918 Spyder uses two individual electric motors, to supplement its gasoline engine. One electric motor drives the front wheels, and the other is mounted between the engine and rear wheels, ready to provide a boost of power when necessary.

A carbon-fiber reinforced plastic monocoque construction will keep weight low, and to reach that "three liter" figure the 918 is a plug-in hybrid, so drivers will get to run on electric power only over a set distance.

The Porsche 918 Spyder is just one in a series of hybrid supercars due over the next few years--with Ferrari now revealing that its Enzo successor will also be a hybrid.

The sudden rush to develop hybrid supercars could be seen as a sign of the push towards greener transportation--but it's equally fair to say that supercar customers are also influenced by the increasing technology in modern auto racing too, with diesels, KERS hybrids and more appearing in top-level series.

Porsche's Wolfgang Hatz sums up the 918 quite succinctly--"What we are doing with the 918 Spyder is redefining driving fun, efficiency and performance."


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Comments (18)
  1. So, I guess I am not supposed to attack the author here, but it will be difficult.

    This vehicle will NOT get 78 MPG or anything close to that. It will NOT have the efficiency of the LUPO 3L.

    The numbers are presented here completely without context and comparing the 3L LUPO to the 3L Porsche is more than a little misleading.

    In all likelihood, Porsche is not accounting for the value of the electricity added to the car and the MPG number in this system might go to Infinity the way it can in the Volt's internal display or in a Prius if it wasn't clipped to 99mpg.

    The number is meaningless and I am trying desperately not to say what I really want to say.

  2. John, I'm sure it's hugely difficult for you to avoid being massively cynical over anything that isn't a Prius, but please avoid letting your cynicism override your ability to read.

    I fairly clearly wrote "and to reach that "three liter" figure the 918 is a plug-in hybrid, so drivers will get to run on electric power only over a set distance."

    To me, that's a pretty obvious suggestion that the 3l figure DOES take into account the value of electricity in the mix.

    Since this is a fairly straightforward news article I'm not at liberty to start making assumptions about Porsche's figures and until cars start hitting the road I've no reason - nor any evidence - to doubt them.

  3. Dear moderator, if he calls me a cynic, can I call him a fanboi and get away with it.

    You have already declared Porsche to be the greenest car company around setting all facts aside and this reporting just continues the Porsche fanboi narrative.

    The reader would need to read five paragraphs laying out a misleading narrative, then read a finely worded statement in paragraph six to hope to get at the truth.

    Avoid the man bites dog story line and tell the complete story. The 3 liter number is meaningless. It is the same way the Volt gets more than 200 mpg or the plug-in Prius gets more than 50 mpg.

    Can I average my bike miles into my Prius calculations to get higher mpg.


  4. @John: We have "declared Porsche to be the greenest car company around" ... excuse me?

  5. Yes you have. Let me see if I can find it.

  6. Of course I can't find it right now (doesn't help that your search engine autocorrects "Antony" to "Anthony" and google attached Antony's name to every article even the ones he didn't write.)

    It was an Antony article from about a year ago where to celebrate Porsche's promise to deliver hybrids and EVs in the future, he said that Porsche was "arguably" the "greenest" car company.

    If that isn't fanboi, don't know what is. Talk about your wishful thinking.

  7. John B - That sounds suspiciously like you've taken whatever phrase I *actually* used massively out of context.

    Here are the three Porsche articles I've EVER written for GCR:




    Incidentally, I've found the article in question you were talking about. It wasn't me who wrote it, but since you were prepared to accuse me without having the evidence to back it up, I'm quite happy to not provide you with a link to the relevant article.

  8. There are more comments in this thread
  9. You're welcome to call me a fanboi John, but you'd need evidence to back it up. GCR has done what, three articles on Porsche in the last year or so? And all of one of them has been written by me.

    Am I the fanboi for writing a simple news piece on a Porsche once in a blue moon, or are you the cynic for jumping at the chance to knock any vehicle that doesn't correspond with your personal beliefs?

  10. As for the glaringly obvious paragraph (wherever it's located) on how the Porsche's MPG has been calculated, we like to think our readers have the initiative to read and digest the full article and the content within, rather than judge it based on selective paragraphs.

  11. Oh, please, you set up a massive false comparison and then complain that I am picking on one paragraph. The whole tone of the article guide the reader in the wrong direction.

    Lupo MPG and Porsche MPG are on two totally different non-comparable scales and you compared them. This fact should be corrected, but no, better to complain about the commenter.

  12. On a calmer note.

    If green car reports is going to use multiple scales all labeled mpg, it seems only reasonable to alert the reader to the difference to avoid confusion. I knew this is done to some extent already, but completely missed in this article.

    For example
    MPG (epa combine)
    MPGe (epa combined using the electric energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline)
    MPG (UK gallons, Euro method)
    MPG (Some BS method concocted by Porsche and meaningless, maybe I am not completely calm).

    This is a real problem when two cars are compared as being the same MPG when they are on totally different scales.

    This is not cynicism, it is simple factual reporting.

  13. Let's start with a little apology that I am sure will end up being one sided.

    I am sorry for mis-attributing the Porsche article to Antony and building my impression of him based partly on a mis-attributed article..

  14. Now back to the facts.
    1) There is no clear distinction drawn between the two MPG methods used.
    2) No apology or correction offered for this error.
    3) A false narrative of equivalence between the Lupo and the Porsche occupies the bulk of the story
    4) No apology or correction is offered for this. Only attacks on the commenter and assumptions that the reader will figure it out.

    As for what motives the author has for writing this way, apparently it is impolite to say, or assume. But it is OK make assumptions about the commenter.

  15. But as for GCR and their treatment of Porsche and its greenness we have these three gems of fact
    1) The dubious 78 mpg(method unknown) claim for the Porsche in this article comparing it (inappropriately) to a Lupo
    2) The dubious 52 mpg(sloppy method) claim for a Porsche hybrid in the Voelcker article comparing it (inappropriately) to a Prius
    3) And the pièce de résistance The Viknesh article claiming "Porsche is currently one of the greenest automakers on the planet"

    So there you have it folks. Three GCR authors and their positioning of Porsche. Draw your own conclusions, because it is apparently impolite of me to draw the obvious conclusions for you.

    Of course, all three are great authors and I enjoy most of what is written on GCR.

  16. @John: [sigh] You cite three articles out of almost 7,000 published on GCR to date. I'd suggest that you have a denominator problem.

  17. Had I not cited any specific articles, your response would have been that I needed to be more specific.

    Now that I have given three specific examples, your response is three really isn't that many?

    Given that Antony claims to have only written three Porsche articles, I would say my citing 3 Porsche articles is a the same order of magnitude.

    But, if this is your way of saying that 3 so-so articles out of 7000 is really not that bad, I agree.

    It would, of course, be better if there was an admit that any one of these article is so-so. But there is no sign of that, but the opposite, a vigorous defense to the end. [sigh]

  18. I think its great to take technology bred in racing to cars that can be driven by non professional racing drivers. If you add up all the features in the 918, the driving experience will be distinctly different from all previous vehicles. Granted that accessibility to this cluster of technology is very pricey, but surely it will become more massively diffused as costs go down. Consumption figures and energy costs will take a back seat to the thrill of performance and handling with less CO2 emissions ... lets give a break to those who develop these type of vehicles.

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