After unveiling its 918 RSR racecar earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Porsche has announced its official plans to build a production version of the Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). For the new Porsche model, 918 is obviously a defining number with Porsche announcing that production at its Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen plant would commence on Sept. 18 (9/18), 2013 and the plug-in super car would be limited to just 918 units. Official pricing is set at $845,000 making it the most expensive Porsche ever, but judging by the Porsche's fondness for the number 918, it is surprising that the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder wasn't given a starting price of $918,000'¦ at this price, what's an extra $78,000?
As a true PHEV, the Porsche 918 Spyder will be powered by a V-8 that will produce more than 500 horsepower while two electric motors will add at least another 218 horsepower to the car's total output. The engine will have a maximum speed of 9,200 rpm, and it will power the rear wheels through a seven-speed PDK transmission. Although Porsche has not confirmed which internal combustion engine will be used in the 918 Spyder, it did say that it would feature a displacement of more than four liters so it is possible that an engine could be shared with the Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Panamera (which is currently the 4.8-liter V-8) or an all-new engine is being developed altogether.
The plug-in technologies used in this car will allow it to blend high-performance attributes with environmentally friendly ones. With a charge time of about seven hours, the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack is expected to give the 918 Spyder an all-electric driving range of at least 16 miles per hour at a top speed of up to 94 mph. One of the electric motors also powers the rear wheels through this gearbox while the other electric motor sends power to the front wheels which, in certain conditions, will make this car all-wheel drive. In true hybrid mode (running on both the engine and electric motors) should result in the most impressive performance which Porsche says includes lightning-fast acceleration from zero to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph. Porsche is also expecting the car to return combined fuel consumption of three liters per 100 kilometeres (3 L/100 km) or roughly the equivalent to 78 miles per gallon.
In true Porsche fashion, the 918 Spyder will look as fast as it is. Judging by the design sketches, most of the car's lines have been carried over both from the 2011 918 RSR racecar or last year's 918 Spyder Concept. The key difference made from the concept vehicle to the production model is that it will utilize a two-piece removable hard roof that can be stored in the front luggage area when not in use. The 918 Spyder features the extensive use of lightweight materials to help keep the curb weight low, and although no official curb weight has been announced yet, reports for the 918 Spyder Concept indicate a weight somewhere in the low 3,000-pound range (3,218 pounds based on the concept vehicle). The body shell will be made from carbon reinforced plastic (CFP), while aluminum and magnesium are used to ensure chassis strength to optimize the car's handling and acceleration.
One of the most unique features of the 918 Spyder is the choice of four drive modes: E-drive, Hybrid, Sport Hybrid and Race Hybrid. As one would expect, the E-drive mode gives makes the most of the 918 Spyder's electric motors by offering a range of 16 miles of zero-emission, full-electric driving. The Hybrid mode allows the car to act more like a standard hybrid-electric vehicle by combining the power of the engine and electric motors together and geared to maximize fuel economy. In Sport Hybrid mode, the 918 Spyder acts more like a rear-biased, all-wheel drive car with most of the power sent to the rear wheels and a Torque Vectoring system that helps maximize the performance potential. Like the 911 GT3 R Hybrid that Porsche introduced last year, the Race Hybrid mode is designed for pure track driving with a focus on handling and acceleration - the latter through what Porsche calls the E-boost function which uses the batteries and electric motors to supplement the engine power (think nitrous oxide boost only with electricity instead) at the wheels.
Although there are still more than two years before the car goes on sale, the car is now available to order, and it's sure to sell out fast. In the meantime, those lucky enough to afford one of the 918 Spyders that will be made will also have an opportunity to purchase a limited-production 911 Turbo S to satisfy their cravings for a high-speed Porsche. Pricing for these special-edition 911 Turbo S models will be the same as the regular 2011 production which is $160,700 for a Coupe and $172,100 for a Cabriolet. This model will be fittingly named the Porsche 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder with deliveries taking place by the end of this year.