Is it possible for a hybrid to be a proper performance oriented vehicle? Or, will they be forever subjugated by only those who enjoy oversized R/C cars? Of course no true car enthusiast is going to appreciate an electric motor and a car that has to be plugged into a wall. On top of that the terms hybrid and performance have become contradictory by nature. However, it may be time to prepare ourselves to rethink the capabilities of hybrid technology as Porsche shatters all stereotypes with their 911 GT3 R Hybrid.
Their hybrid doesn’t take a decade to reach 60 mph and it doesn’t look like a flower pot on wheels either. To the contrary it’s actually a highly modified version of the Porsche GT3, in other words it’s built to win races.
First, let’s be clear, this is not a production vehicle as it is strictly a competition racer (in experimental stages) for Porsche Motorsport. Still, that doesn’t make it any less cool and the technology is pretty significant.
At the core of the GT3 R Hybrid is the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (originally designed for F1 use), better known as KERS. The system is basically a portal axle with two electric motors that power the front wheels, while the 4.0 liter flat six powers the rear per usual. The Recovery System reclaims energy that is normally lost during braking, that energy is stored in a flywheel which can then power the front wheels at the press of a button. During this moment of boost the car receives an additional 160hp.
In simple terms it’s not far off from the arcade videogames where you build boost and then unleash the extra power at your choosing.
Porsche was on the cusp of making history when they almost won last year’s Nurburgring 24 hour event. Unfortunately all hopes of a glorious debut were dashed when a mechanical failure to the engine forced the team to retire. It should be noted that the failure was not at all related to the hybrid system itself, so for all intents and purposes KERS definitely proved its worth.
Enter Version 2.0
Despite a good showing the ever innovative manufacture was pleased, but not satisfied. Thus, they’ll make their return with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid Version 2.0 on June 25 for the Nurburgring 24 hour race. Version 2.0 will be lighter and feature even more horsepower. The electric motors now generate 100hp each, providing a total of 200hp to the front when under boost. The original weight of the hybrid was 2,976 lbs and has now been reduced to 2,866 lbs. Other changes include a reduction in drag and lower fuel consumption.
“The emphasis of our work was on improving efficiency. That means we want to keep the lap times consistent with 2010 but use less energy, hence less fuel. In this way, we support future developments of road-going, sporting hybrid vehicles.” – Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche motorsport.
The GT3 R Hybrid is definitely nothing short of engineering excellence and it will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on it as it continues to progress. Below is a very informative video, detailing exactly how KERS works at the track.