Porsche revs up 911 hybrid

After the official debut of the 911 GT3 R at the Geneva auto show, Porsche plans to race the car to learn, not win, at 24 Hours of Nurburgring in May.

Artist's rendering of the Porsche GT3 R Hybrid. Porsche

It'll be fast, and it'll be green.

High-performance automaker Porsche plans to unveil a hybrid version of its 911 GT3 R race car at the Geneva Motor Show in March--and then enter it in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring race this May.

Curious about how Porsche plans to get Porsche-like performance out of a green machine? To pique your interest, the company on Thursday issued a press release explaining roughly how the gas-electric hybrid system will work, and showing off some artist's renderings of the car.

In addition to a 480-bhp 4-liter engine powering the rear axle, the race car will have two electric motors for the front axle, each one capable of delivering 60kW to the two front wheels. But instead of powering the electric motors with heavy batteries that might weigh down or upset the balance of a race car, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid will have an electric flywheel power generator.

When the driver applies the brakes, the two electric front axle motors act as generators, and the flywheel generator stores energy from braking. The driver can then use the power from the flywheel generator for a burst of power lasting 6 to 8 seconds, presumably to overtake another car or to accelerate out of a bend.

Even with the entry in the Nurburgring event, Porsche is under no pretense that the hybrid sports car will actually be competitive.

"The focus is not on the 911 GT3 R Hybrid winning the race, but rather serving as a spearhead in technology and a 'racing laboratory' providing know-how on the subsequent use of hybrid technology in road-going sports cars," Porsche said in a statement.

The Porsche news follows Ferrari's announcement in January that it will be unveiling a hybrid version of the Ferrari 599 GTB at the Geneva auto show.

The 911 GT3 R that Porsche unveiled in January 2010 will be the basis for its hybrid race car. Porsche

This artist's rendering shows the placement of the electrical flywheel battery. Porsche

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