The flagship version of Porsche’s large luxury sedan leads the charge into hi-po hybrid territory and owes some of its DNA to the mighty 918 Spyder supercar, says Porsche, but the door is now open for the company’s first hybrid sports car to follow the Panamera’s lead.
Speaking at the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid’s global launch in Canada, Porsche global technical communications manager Herman-Josef Stappen said a 911 S E-Hybrid was on the wishlist but the company still needed to jump a number of critical hurdles.
“I think we can do it,” he said. “From a technological point of view it’s easy. You have the high-performance sportscar in the 918 Spyder so you can use the components and the knowhow to do this to the 911, but we are thinking about how many cars can we sell and will our customers accept it.”
“They (engineers) are looking at it constantly but it’s not decided yet.”
In the case of the 918 Spyder, Porsche engineers managed to offset the extra weight of the hybrid system with extensive carbonfibre construction for a kerb weight of 1634kg, and Stappen explained that weight is “more important for sportcars” and a 911 hybrid would only happen if its weight and dynamics were uncompromised.
According to Porsche’s development team, the company is researching new lighter materials for both battery and motor technology but, for now, lithium ion cell systems represent the way forward.
A hybrid 911 is also dependent on maintaining a two-plus-two seating configuration, which Stappen explained is important to many 911 owners. The space behind the front seats would be one obvious location for hybrid batteries, but would likely eliminate the rear seats as a consequence.
“The classical 911 customer wants to have the four seat capacity and where put the batteries if not in the rear of the car? On the other hand, we showed that with the research cars that the mid-engined layout is very good for an electrical car. You have very minor changes on the platform to put in an electric drive.”
The company has already hinted at it its intent to electrify the two-seater convertible with the Boxter E-Mobility concept which followed a pair of 987 Boxster electric prototypes in 2011.
Unlike the Panamera, which is a relative newcomer to the Porsche family, Stappen said customers may be harder to convince with a hybridised version of such a celebrated and longstanding model, but the 911 has previously successfully endured significant changes such as the switch to liquid cooled engines and, more recently, widespread turbocharging.
“I think if it’s performing in its segment as the top car, you can use a hybrid or a combustion engine. It doesn't matter if it is performing as the customer wants.
“If we bring a hybrid 911 it will be the best 911 ever.”
Before the decade is out Porsche will deliver its first pure EV, derived from the Mission E concept - another vehicle that prioritises high performance over environmental friendliness.