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In a move likely to shock diehard Porsche fans -- and give Toyota Prius drivers something to grin about -- the iconic 911 is destined to get plug-in hybrid power by 2020.
The 911 of the future will still have a petrol engine for open road driving, but it will also be able to do city commuting on battery power alone.
Porsche has all but confirmed a power cord will become an accessory on one of the world’s most famous sportscars after experimenting with the technology on Porsche’s mainstream sedan and SUV models, and its million-dollar 918 supercar.
“I expect we’ll end up with every model line with a plug-in hybrid,” the chief engineer for Porsche’s first hybrid supercar, Dr Frank-Stefan Walliser, told News Corp Australia at the 2015 LeMans 24 Hour where Porsche is fielding three hybrid race cars.
“Most people believe hybrid is Prius … slow and no fun to drive. (Porsche) is different. I love hybrids, if they are powerful,” said Porsche’s research and development chief, Wolfgang Hatz.
It has to feel like a Porsche and like a 911. It must drive like these cars always drive.
While hybrid technology was initially developed to save fuel in slow moving traffic, the world’s performance car brands are warming to the concept after discovering electric motors deliver instant acceleration from low speeds.
When asked how long it would be before Porsche introduced hybrid power to the 911, Mr Hatz said: “For sure an all-new 911 we need the opportunity to do that (add a hybrid model). I am convinced of the concept.”
With an updated version of the 911 due later this year, the next all-new, hybrid-ready model is still at least another three years away.
“Personally I'm a strong supporter of hybrid technology. That is the reason I push hard for this. If it improves performance, then we need it on our sports cars, if it’s fun to drive people want to have it,” said Mr Hatz.
Dr Walliser added: “It has to feel like a Porsche and like a 911. It must drive like these cars always drive.”
Australia’s former Formula One ace -- and Porsche LeMans driver -- Mark Webber is also a convert of the technology.
When asked if customers would embrace hybrid technology, Webber said: “Definitely. They will, because we’re not easy to convince, as racing drivers, with this technology.”
Webber said hybrid technology was inevitable as strict European emissions standards forced the introduction of smaller petrol engines.
“When you see the massive downsize in engines and … awesome turbo tech, consumption is low and you’ve got the interface of the hybrid side,” said Webber.
“The options available off the back of this (LeMans) program, it’s some good stuff.”
One of the 911 models under consideration for hybrid power is the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 -- using electric motors to drive the front wheels and a non-turbo petrol engine to drive the rear wheels.
“A Carrera 4, why not?” said Dr Walliser. “With four-wheel drive what you can do, the freedom you have how to use the traction, you’re not (restricted by) the speed between the different axles.”
Electric motors are a good fit in hybrid cars with non-turbo engines because they deliver instant acceleration at low speeds while regular petrol engines develop power at higher revs, he said.
Porsche was the first mainstream brand to introduce a showroom-ready plug-in hybrid car, the Panamera sedan in 2012. It followed the release with the Cayenne e-Hybrid in 2013 and the plug-in hybrid 918 supercar in 2014.
“Our first plug-in hybrid was in 2012 … we now know a lot more (about) what we can do with a hybrid,” said Mr Hatz.