Porsche’s electric past and future
Monday, August 21, 2017
With increasingly strict government fuel and emissions restrictions around the globe, it is clear that an alternative fuel is likely the way of the future. Currently, it looks like electric vehicles are winning the war of the new way of powering the automobile. Even sports car companies are looking to move away from the 100 percent internal combustion engine.
For Porsche, this has meant a recent affair with hybrid vehicles as well as some promising electric concepts. But the hybrid-electric car is not a new concept for the manufacturer.
In fact, the Porsche hybrid dates back to 1900 when production of the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid started. The hybrid car used electric engines in each wheel hub to propel the car and used a battery that could be charged by a gasoline generator.
This was the first vehicle designed by Ferdinand Porsche, and it helped him win the 1905 Potting Prize as Austria's most outstanding automotive engineer. Not bad for his first crack at designing an automobile.
Daimler-Benz quickly snatched the young Porsche and gave him a position as their chief designer. This vehicle is historically significant, and modern automotive designers as well as NASA have studied the design and used the concepts for their projects.
While the first vehicle to feature the Porsche name was a hybrid, it would take a number of years before a hybrid wearing the Porsche crest would be produced.
In 2005, Porsche announced that it would build a hybrid version of the Cayenne SUV. Then, in 2007, a working prototype of a Cayenne Hybrid was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
In 2010, the production version of the Cayenne S Hybrid made its way into showrooms. The hybrid SUV was powered by a 3.0-liter V6 and linked to an electric motor.
In 2014, the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid made it to production. Once again, a 3.0-liter V6 was mated to an electric motor that offered a combined 410 horsepower, more than the 328 of the earlier Cayenne Hybrid.
While the power output was increased, the biggest change was that the Cayenne S E-Hybrid runs on all-electric power with a range of 11-22 miles, depending on driving style.
In 2014, the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid made it to production. (Image: Porsche)
Also, in 2010, the 997 generation Porsche 911 R Hybrid made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The competition hybrid used a F1 kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) developed by the Williams F1 Team.
The system differed from other Formula 1 KERS systems by using a flywheel to store energy instead of batteries as other systems. The GT3-R Hybrid used two electric motors with a total output of at least 218 horsepower. These motors drove the front wheels, and the back ones were powered by the 500-horsepower 4.0-liter flat-six hanging out back.
The GT3-R Hybrid used two electric motors with a total output of at least 218 horsepower. (Image: Porsche)
The 991 GT3-R Hybrid raced in the VLN series, which included the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring. While the new technology did not result in many victories, it did manage a win in a VLN race on May 28, 2011. The 997 GT3-R Hybrid also ran as a classified vehicle in the 2011 American Le Mans Series at Monterey race.
Porsche showed off their Porsche Boxster E all-electric vehicle to the world in 2011. The aim of the prototype was to show a glimpse of the future of the sports car, and it did show the potential of the electric car.
While power outputs for the single-motor Boxster E prototype were modest (0-60 mph took 9.8 seconds), the dual-motor prototype offered the same performance of the 2011 Boxster S. The dual-motor E could launch from 0-62 mph in just 5.5 seconds and keep going to its limited top speed of 124 mph.
While the Boxster E has never been put into production, there are rumors that an all-electric production Boxster is in the near future.
Porsche showed off their Porsche Boxster E all-electric vehicle to the world in 2011. (Image: Porsche)
2010 was a big year for announcing Porsche Hybrid technology. At the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, the Porsche 918 Spyder concept car made its debut. The car had classic Porsche lines combined with some radical styling features, such as side exhaust pipes. It was the first hybrid supercar announced to the public, and it created quite a stir in the press.
In 2013, the production version of the 918 was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The production car looked much like the concept car, but with more traditional-looking wheels and the signature top-mounted exhaust pipes. When the concept car was announced, a power output of 700 horsepower was stated, but when the production car came along this went up to 887 horses.
The Porsche 918 Spyder concept car made its debut at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. (Image: Porsche)
When the production car hit showrooms, the Porsche 918 Spyder had managed to lap the famed Nurburgring in just 6:57, a record for a production car. The Porsche cost about $1 million (depending on options), but it was considerably less expensive than its rivals from McLaren and Ferrari.
Even coming in at a lesser price, the 918 Spyder won many head-to-head battles in the media among the three. The McLaren P1 was also able to lap the Nurburgring in less than 7 minutes, but as McLaren would not state the exact time, conventional logic would assume the Porsche lapped it quicker.
In 2013, Porsche not only brought the 918 Spyder to production, but it also brought the Panamera S E-Hybrid. The plug-in hybrid could go more than 20 miles on a single charge in all-electric mode. It could also be driven in hybrid mode, using the gas motor to recharge the batteries to allow for full electric mode again or use all the available power to go all out.
Having personally driven the car on the track and road, I can say that it drives quite well and you don't notice much difference between the S and S E-Hybrid on the track. On the road, full electric mode suits it well while eating up some miles in complete comfort.
With up to 416 horses on tap when used on the track and still having the ability to go 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds in all-electric mode on the road, it was the perfect balance between saving gas and having driving fun (at least this side of a 918).
More recently, Porsche took the Panamera hybrid performance to new heights with the introduction of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid in the latest Panamera generation. The twin-turbocharged V8-powered car combined this power plant with the hybrid electric motor to offer a combined output of 680 horsepower. 0-60 mph comes in just 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 192 mph.
The Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is a twin-turbocharged V8-powered car that offers a combined output of 680 horsepower. (Image: Porsche)
A Porsche-built factory-backed car had been out of the top level at Le Mans since 1998. In 2014, that all changed as the Porsche entered the top LMP1 class with a new hybrid race car.
The Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder gas-powered engine. To assist the gas power plant, the 919 used two energy recuperation systems that would store power in lithium-ion batteries. Add all this to the low weight of just 1,929 pounds (without fuel or driver), and you have a fast and economical (from a racing standpoint) machine.
The Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder gas-powered engine. (Image: Porsche)
For Porsche, 2014 didn't end the way they wanted at Le Mans with both cars exiting the race with broken anti-roll bars. In that race, the number 20 car was challenging Audi for the lead with just an hour and a half remaining when it was forced out by the anti-roll bar issues. The next three years would be much kinder to Porsche as they would win the legendary 24-hour race three years in a row.
While Porsche has shown the potential of hybrid drivetrains for high-performance cars, more recently they have moved their attention to all-electric cars. Tesla has shown that all-electric vehicles have potential to be a viable option as an everyday driver, but Porsche is looking to take their vast knowledge and engineering expertise and apply it to full-electric vehicles.
We got a glimpse of what an all-electric Porsche would be like with the Boxster E, but the Mission E debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show showed us even more. Powering the concept are two electric motors. One motor propels the front axle and the other the rear axle. When the two motors work together, over 600 horsepower output is promised.
Porsche claims the Mission E sports sedan will be able to go 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and will hit 124 mph in only 12 seconds. The electric vehicle, which is expected to lap the Nurburgring in under eight minutes, will offer a range of more than 300 miles on a single charge stored in the lithium-ion battery.
Even more impressive is that Porsche plans to use an 800-volt charging system (it can also use the conventional 400-volt stations already available) that will charge the car to 80 percent in just 15 minutes. That will give the Porsche Mission E a range of 250 miles on just that 15-minute charge.
The future is almost upon us as the Mission E is expected to go into production in 2019 or 2020.
Porsche claimed the Mission E sports sedan will be able to go 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and will hit 124 mph in only 12 seconds. (Image: Porsche)
With Porsche looking to enter the all-electric vehicle space for road cars, they need a place to test their technology. In the past, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship have been the perfect place to put their cars to a brutal test. However, these are not made for full-electric vehicles (at least not yet).
Because of this, Porsche has announced that they will be entering the all-electric Formula E Series. This will give Porsche the perfect testing ground in a tough racing environment.
If their technology can prove reliable and perform well in Formula E, it will bode well for the road cars. Technology that will be made for the racing series will also make its way to its future road cars. It has been confirm that Porsche will begin competing in Formula E starting in the 2019-20 season.
Porsche has come full circle and now has made high-performance cars with a hybrid system that in basic concept is similar to the first car designed by Ferdinand Porsche. The future appears to hold more electric-powered vehicles for Porsche.
It still remains to be seen whether an all-electric version of a traditional sports car will be made by Porsche. The upcoming Mission E will likely give hints on whether that will ever happen.
Once the Porsche Mission E makes it to production, we will see if the soul is missing or if an all-electric vehicle can inspire the same kind of emotions that have only been stirred in a gas-powered sports car. If Porsche can manage that along with their fast-charging system, the automotive world will never be the same.
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