Hybrid. The word conjures up thoughts of boring Priuses driving slow in the left lane to save the planet from evil emissions. Put it next to the names of sportscars like Gallardo, F430, DBS, 911, and that little green word sucks all of the excitement out of it – or so you think.
In 1898 a young Dr. Ferdinand Porsche built the first hybrid automobile. Named the Elektromobil, it was introduced at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Using two electric motors in each of the hubs of the front wheels, the automobile was able to travel up to 38 miles on electricity alone and was quiet compared to the noisy gasoline powered automobiles at the time. In 1901 Porsche introduced the Mixt hybrid system, which featured a generator to drive the battery pack and electric wheel hubs, fitted to a Daimler gasoline engine. By 1906 just over 300 of the automobiles were built, pioneers of the modern hybrid automobile.
Fast-forward 110 years, and Porsche is again introducing a hybrid model. Developed for production-based GT racing, the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid will build upon the 45 years and over 20,000 wins of 911 racecars. Powering the Porsche GT3 R Hybrid will be a 4.0-liter flat-six making 480 bhp, and an electric front axle drive with two 60kW electric motors. Instead of large batteries, an electrical flywheel generator stores powers for the two electric motors and is positioned next to the driver.
The electric flywheel power generator stores mechanical energy as rotational energy, spinning up to 40,000 rpm. The flywheel generator is charged when the driver applies the brakes. Energy that is created from the act of braking is converted by the two motors at the front axle and stored in the flywheel generator. The driver can then use this energy for 6-8 seconds for increased acceleration. The flywheel generator is electromagnetically slowed, sending up to 120 kW (approx 160 hp) of the stored energy to both electric motors at the front axle in addition to the 480 hp at the rear.
The hybrid system gives the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid many benefits other than the power boost. The system allows for the car to make less pit stops and reduce the weight of the fuel tank, a huge advantage in motorsports.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid will be tested at the 24 Hours on the Nordschleife of Nürburgring race May 15th-16th. The testing is aimed to improve the technology for future uses in racing and road cars. To some Porsche enthusiasts a future of 911 hybrids is blasphemy, but one thing is for certain: a 911 hybrid will burn more rubber than a Prius.
Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid Gallery
Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid Specifications
Cylinder arrangement: Boxer
Electric Motors: 60 kW each (approx. 161 hp combined)
Generator: Charged flywheel (positioned next to driver)