Porsche 918 successor will need 'technology breakthrough'
The hybrid Porsche 918 had a top speed of 210mph
German firm says it’s too soon to launch an electric-only follow-up to its 210mph sports car
The obvious next-step for a Porsche ‘super-sports’ is an all-electric powertrain, but company engineers have warned that the high weight of today’s batteries makes such a car unlikely in the near future.
“A future super-sports is a matter of technology. If we were to do it now, it would be a hybrid. But we have already done that with the 918,” said R&D boss Michael Steiner.
An all-electric supercar could produce acceleration times that would fit Porsche’s performance criteria, but the car would also have to beat the 918 Spyder’s lap time around the Nuburgring Nordschleife.
While that might be possible with an all electric car, Steiner warned that the rate at which charge would have to be drawn from a supercar’s batteries is likely to lead to cell damage, cutting the working life of the battery.
“And I don’t think our customers are ready to treat the battery as a replaceable item, yet,” said Steiner.
Another consideration with an all-electric supercar is the extra weight, which would put the tyres, brakes and steering under excessive strain at the cornering and stopping speeds that are common on the Nurburgring.
The next major technology advance coming in electrification is solid state batteries, but they are in the R&D development phase now with series production a number of years away.
“Porsche has never had a plan to bring out a super sports on a regular cycle,” said Steiner.
The previous cadence was the Carrera GT in 2004, prompted by the availability of carbon-fibre tub technology, followed nine years later in 2013 by the 918 Spyder, which exploited advances in hybrid technology linked to Porsche’s return to front-line endurance racing.
“The next one might be even longer,” said Steiner. That suggests a date no earlier than 2021.
Having pulled out from the WEC at the end of this year, many of the WEC team’s engineers will be redeployed to build Porsche’s Formula E car for next season.
Developments in future battery technology could well be spun-off the Formula E race effort.
“What we are looking for is something new, for our next super sports,” confirmed Steiner.