After weeks of teasing Porsche lovers about a “big announcement” that would take place at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), our wait*finally came to an end this morning (at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am) . Via webcast, those of us not fortunate enough to be at the show were there as Porsche unveiled its latest foray into the world of hybrid race cars: the 918 RSR.*

Minutes after the unveiling, Porsche’s official HD video*was all over the internet and social media, bolstered by the efforts of the German carmaker’s fans on Facebook and Twitter.

The Porsche 918 Spyder*(known internally as Project XG10) was first shown at the 80th Geneva Motor Show*in March 2010. Aside from the beautiful lines the 918 sported, my favorite photo by far showed the stunner on stage in Geneva, spotlights shining upon it, power cord emerging from*the*car*and heading off-stage.*I never thought I’d live to see the day where I’d be wowed by an electric vehicle. I had been completely devoted to the marque*before, but this picture catapulted me toward insane devotion: our favorite carmaker*had proven you could make*a car*eco-friendly*without compromising*motorsport*integrity.(1) Soon after showing us the 918 Spyder*in Geneva, the Supervisory Board of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, gave the green light to the 918 Spyder.[4]**Soon after,*Porsche confirmed its return to the NAIAS and the rumors of a special*Porsche making an appearance in Detroit started. We assumed we’d get to see the 918 in the flesh, and I looked forward to examining it at close range (and yes, I planned to take a photo of the power cord).

Ready for the track: the 918 RSR (photo courtesy of Porsche)

But then the rumors reached a fever pitch, and we knew we’d get to see something new. And this morning, along with our coffee, we got the 918 RSR. Boy, were we right.

As is the case with every Porsche car, tradition and innovation go hand in hand in the 918 RSR. The official Porsche press release states, “from the tradition established by classic Porsche long-distance race cars such as the 908 long-tail coupé (1969) and the 917 short-tail coupé (1971), the Porsche designers created a link to the postmodernism of the ‘form follows function’ philosophy. In the 918 RSR, the lines’ elegant flow is dominated by muscular wheel arches, dynamic air intakes and a pulpit-like cockpit. A visible fan wheel between the ram air intake tubes and a rear spoiler with RS Spyder dimensions additionally emphasize the racing laboratory function. The new ‘liquid metal chrome blue’ color which has been created underscores the sculptured curves of the forms, whilst the typical Porsche hybrid orange color on brake calipers and the body’s longitudinal stripes lends remarkable touches.” (2)

The 918 RSR (photo courtesy of Porsche)

Although the 918 Spyder*already sports a clean, spartan interior (highlighted by green accents echoing its eco-friendliness), the*918 RSR’s*interior is even more pared down (or, as Porsche describes it, “unadorned racing atmosphere”). Aside from bucket seats and a race wheel, “the 918 RSR’s*cockpit is split by a minimalistic console with rocker switches.” As with the GT3*R Hybrid, the 918 RSR has the flywheel accumulator where the passenger seat would be. (2)

The 918′s V8 engine (563 hp at 10,300 rpm)*is a further development of the direct injection engine from the successful RS Spyder*race car. Officially, “the electric motors on the two front wheels each contribute 75 kW, i.e. a total of 150 kW, to the peak drive power of exactly 767 hp.” This additional power, which is generated during braking, is stored in an optimized flywheel accumulator. Further technical*details about the 918 RSR were provided by Porsche:

“In the 918 RSR, the two electric motors offer a torque vectoring function with variable torque distribution to the front axle. This additionally increases agility and improves steering response. Mounted upstream of the rear axle, the mid-engine is integrated with a racing transmission also based on the RS Spyder race car. This further developed six-speed constant-mesh transmission with longitudinally mounted shafts and straight-toothed spur gears is operated using two shift paddles behind the racing steering wheel.

Finally: Porsche lets the 918 RSR out of the bag at the NAIAS

The vehicle’s functional equipment underscores its puristic*[sic]*motor racing character. Whether it be the characteristic doors which open obliquely upwards, the air intake in the roof between the wing doors, the quick-action locks on the front and rear CFRP*lids, the two roof-mounted aerials for pit radio and telemetry, the RS Spyder-like*small, lateral front flics or the air splitters beneath the front lip or no-profile racing slicks on 19″ wheels with central locking, the vehicle can be clearly recognized as an experimental racing laboratory.

*This flywheel accumulator is an electric motor whose rotor rotates at up to 36,000 rpm to store rotation energy. Charging occurs when the two electric motors on the front axle reverse their function during braking processes and operate as generators. At the push of a button, the pilot is able to call up the energy stored in the charged flywheel accumulator and use it during acceleration or overtaking maneuvers. The flywheel is braked electromagnetically in this case in order to additionally supply up to 2 x 75 kW, i.e. a total of 150 kW, from its kinetic energy to the two electric motors on the front axle.

This additional power is available for around eight seconds when the system is fully charged. In the successful 911 GT3 R Hybrid, this additional power can also be used as a consumption aid depending on the racing situation, e.g. to delay pit stops or reduce the fuel tank volume and therefore the weight of the vehicle.” (3)

What is In Store for the Porsche Intelligent Performance effort? When we first saw the GT3*R Hybrid, Porsche’s Intelligent Performance was seen as a serious effort to take new direction in the world of motorsport. However, with a second “racing laboratory” — the 918 RSR — Porsche has earned the right to state that they are “elevating*[the] motor racing hybrid concept to an experimental level.” We believe, and we can hardly wait.


(2) official Porsche press release (via PR Newswire)

(3) official Porsche press release (via PR Newswire)

Filed under: cars, high performance driving/track, porsche, racing, video Tagged: 918 RSR, 918 Spyder, Detroit North American International Auto Show, NAIAS, Porsche