So there's a new Porsche 911, the 992, and it's designed to accommodate a hybrid powertrain. We've been hearing about the 911 hybrid for a few years with no clear information on when, or even if, this car will reach production. But now that Porsche has confirmed that the 992 has been designed with electrification in mind, that means we'll definitely see a 911 hybrid, right? Not necessarily.
We spoke with the 992's chief engineer, August Achleitner, yesterday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and he gave us some insight into Porsche's thinking about an electrified 911 and the engineering it's done to prepare for this possibility.
"If you take the [eight-speed PDK] gearbox out of the car and have a look at it, you see there is so much space," Achleitner said. "This empty space is able to integrate an electric motor later, so we are able to make a hybrid version out of the 911."
The 992 will also use an electric brake booster instead of the traditional hydraulic type found in its predecessor. Without an internal-combustion engine running, there's no vacuum, so a hydraulic booster simply wouldn't work.
"[A hybrid] is not planned now for this part of the generation; we have to wait some years [to see] if it's really necessary from a market point of view, for some regulations maybe," Achleitner added. "And of course we would not be satisfied with today's battery technology.
"We could offer it today, of course, [it would] run quite good, but not quite good for us."
The biggest issue is weight. Batteries are heavy, and adding a bunch to a 911 would dull its dynamics. And while, yes, Porsche has done a hybrid sports car before, the 918 Spyder, that car offset the weight of its batteries with a very expensive carbon-fiber chassis and carbon-fiber bodywork. It still weighed around 3700 lbs, too.
"When I'm thinking about a hybrid version of a 911, I'm not simultaneously thinking about a Toyota Prius; I'm thinking about Porsche 919 LMP1. That's a combination that has to take place in the 911.
Achleitner says that with today's technology, Porsche wouldn't be able to fulfill it's own expectations for a hybrid 911.
He added that Porsche might not even need to make a hybrid version of the 911 for some time. It's really dependent on total CO2 emissions of the cars Porsche sells new, which is measured across the whole brand—not by individual car. In practice, that means cars like the Panamera and Cayenne e-Hybrids, the upcoming all-electric Taycan offset the additional emissions of sports cars, like the 911.
"For Porsche as a company, we would not need a hybrid version of the 911 right now, and we won't do it, because we're concentrating completely on the Taycan which will be launched next year," Achleitner said. "Together with a further project we are right now doing together with Audi, [an] electric platform, we have so many different electric cars, we can fulfill all CO2 requirements for the company easily without going to electric power on the sports cars."
At the very earliest, a 911 hybrid would be around four years away, which is likely when the 992 will be facelifted. But given what Achleitner said, it seems we might be waiting even longer than that.
And if you're disappointed Porsche had to use a larger, heavier gearbox to accommodate a hybrid that might not come, there's a simple work-around: Get the manual. It's the seven-speed from the 991, and it saves a lot of weight.