Porsche Exec Hints At Development Of Hybrid Engine For Next-Gen 911
All those rumors surrounding a hybrid version for the next-generation Porsche 911 took a huge step in the direction of reality now that someone in the heart of the 911 Turbo’s development has come out and said that a plug-in version of the 911 is already being worked on over at Stuttgart. While that isn’t the purest way to outright confirm the reality of a 911 hybrid, it is the closest thing to a confirmation coming from someone inside Porsche.
Erhard Mössle, the engineering boss for the 911 Turbo, Carrera 4, and 911 Targa, disclosed to Car and Driver some pretty interesting details about the project at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. In the conversation, Mössle admitted that the company is working on different plug-in solutions for the 911. He didn’t dive into the specifics on how much progress the company has made, but he did say that if a hybrid 911 does become a reality, it’s not going to happen until the next-generation version of the iconic nameplate arrives.
One of the biggest challenges that Porsche is having right now is the packaging of the next-generation 911, especially now that it might have to accommodate a battery pack. In fact, Mössle didn’t mince any words saying that this new wrinkle to the 911 is one of the most important boxes on the checklist in the engineering of the car. It would make sense considering that Porsche has yet to venture down this path with the 911. Things like the size and weight of the battery pack will have to be accounted for, not to mention the company’s continuing commitment to keeping six-cylinder engines at the heart of the sports car.
The good news is that Porsche doesn’t have to rush into addressing all these concerns. The next-generation 911 isn’t expected to arrive until around 2020, which would give the company enough time to work out all the development details and possible kinks that come with the development of a hybrid engine for the company’s most iconic nameplate.
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Why it matters
As I said, this is far from an actual confirmation that a hybrid version of the next-generation Porsche 911 will, in fact, come true. But, with rumors of such a car going all the way back to 2014, Erhard Mössle’s comments do feel like the validation we’ve all been waiting for.
If a hybrid 911 does come to life, expect it to generate mixed reactions as is common these days when you’re talking about doing something different on something as iconic as the 911. Remember the uproar when Ferrari said it was adopting turbochargers for its new models? Don’t be surprised if something like that happens when Porsche makes the hybrid 911 official.
On one hand, you’re going to have a segment of the population who will applaud the German automaker for adapting to the times, especially in the face of increasingly tough fuel-economy and emissions standards around the world. Keeping the 911 in its traditional form isn’t really that bad, but doing so means that Porsche would be leaving its most popular model out of a segment that’s become increasingly important in the industry these days. Whatever people may think about hybrids, it’s beginning to turn into one of the future foundations of the industry. Everyone’s doing it, even those who have expressed opposition to it in the past. They changed their minds because even if the purists are happy, sticking to what has become the norm would run counter to the natural course of evolution that happens in any industry.
That’s a big reason why Porsche looks like it’s ready to send the 911 into the deep end of hybrid technology. Besides, those who believe that a hybrid 911 is going to taint the nameplate’s legacy is missing the point. Nobody, let alone Porsche, is intentionally trying to do that. It’s just what the industry has evolved into and automakers are left with a choice of joining in on this evolution or risk getting left behind.
I hope to see a hybrid 911 in the future, even if it means waiting for the next-generation model to arrive in 2020. From a business perspective - the only perspective companies really care about anyway - it makes all the sense in the world.
Read our full review on the Porsche 911 here.