Porsche has confirmed that it is working on a plug-in hybrid version of the 911, which is being developed to ensure that the iconic sports car can get through increasingly tough fuel economy and CO2 standards.
Speaking at the Detroit show, Erhard Mössle, the 911 Turbo’s engineering boss, confirmed that work had begun, although he suggested that we will have to wait until the next-generation 911, due in around 2020, to see it. “It takes some time to bring something like this to market,” he said. “With the packaging problems of the car, there are a lot of things to solve before then.”
The need to find space for a sizeable battery pack will be a major headache on the rear-engined 911, as will its mass. Mössle admitted this is leading to serious engineering efforts to reduce the weight of the next car, although he said a move to large amounts of carbonfibre is unlikely on the grounds of both cost and the fact the 911 is produced in high enough volumes to make the high 'cycle times' of carbonfibre components an issue.
“For some parts you can substitute a carbonfibre part, like the floor or the rear seat section,” he said. “But that’s the future, it’s not decided now.”
He also gave welcome confirmation that Porsche remains absolutely committed to maintaining the 911’s character-defining flat six engine, something that the recent switch to turbocharging of the Carrera versions was intended to ensure.
“As far as I can see into the future we will stay with the six-cylinder engine,” Mössle said. “There is still a lot of potential to reduce consumption and CO2 emissions further. As much as I think we will need to.”
Although only 15% of 911s are now being ordered with manual gearboxes worldwide, Mössle insisted that Porsche will keep offering the option of one for as long as there is demand, refusing to follow rivals such as the Audi R8 into paddleshift-only transmission.
“It’s a USP for Porsche to have a manual in the 911 range,” he said. “I think we will fight for it for as long as possible.”