Friday, January 14, 2011

Porsche 918 RSR To Promote Virtues of Hybrids

Porsche 918 RSR To Promote Virtues of Hybrids
According to Porsche's head of Motorsport, Hartmut Kristen, the 918 RSR will be as much a marketing tool as a technological test bed.

"A Porsche is about emotion and passion," he told Inside Line. "We want to get our customers excited about the possibilities provided by hybrid technology. Until now, the Toyota Prius was the hybrid, and we need to change perceptions. In the long term we have to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. This is not just about climate change; it's also about protecting the world's oil reserves."
Porsche is currently developing two hybrids: a Prius-style battery system for use in road cars and a flywheel accumulator solution for racing. The former will be used in the 918 Spyder supercar, which will debut next year. The latter, developed in association with the Williams F1 team, debuted on the 911 GT3 R Hybrid and features in the 918 RSR.
"A flywheel solution works in a racecar because of the highly dynamic driving conditions," says Kristen. "You're collecting and discharging energy in fractions of a second. The flywheel allows us to collect more kinetic energy than a battery but you need to keep a pump running to maintain a vacuum in the system if you want to retain the energy, so it's not a good solution for the road."

According to Kristen, the main issue is not how you store the energy, but how you discharge it. "We're trying to learn as much as possible about how you merge two different power systems together. We need to develop the controls and systems to make the best use of the technology. Porsche is not about making components; our core competency is building cars but we need to understand what we need from the components we source."
The 918 RSR is currently a showcar and is not fully functional. Nor would it currently comply with the regulations for any of the major sports car series. "We wanted to excite our customers and to raise the appetite of the regulation makers for changing the rules," says Kristen.
One potential solution would be to introduce a one-make championship for the 911 GT3 R Hybrid or the 918. "The technology is currently too young and expensive," reckons Kristen, "but in the future it might be feasible. It is possible to imagine a Porsche Supercup series being run with hybrid cars."

Porsche 918 RSR To Promote Virtues of Hybrids
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