In Depth

Porsche mulling canned F1 engine for 918 Spyder successor

Company chief says battery tech advancing too slowly for an electric hypercar

Porsche is planning a successor to its 918 Spyder hypercar that may feature the company’s canned Formula 1 engine, it has emerged.

The German carmaker began working on an F1-destined six-cylinder hybrid engine after withdrawing from the LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) category in the World Endurance Championship at the end of the 2017 season. 

And although the F1 project was ultimately ditched in favour of the all-electric single-seater series Formula E, the company continued to develop the V6 hybrid engine, Autocar reports.

Speaking to the magazine, Porsche racing boss Fritz Enzinger said: “We received an order to further develop a highly efficient six-cylinder engine, despite the LMP1 withdrawal – not only on paper but as hardware.”

An F1-grade engine that is adapted for durability and devoid of the complex and costly MGU-H (motor generator unit - heat) - which converts exhaust heat into electric energy - would “be interesting for a super sports car”, he added.

Enzinger says his team’s hi-tech motor is “complete and running on the test bench” and is being considered “with regard to series production relevance”.

What we know about the 918 Spyder successor

Details about the Porsche’s next flagship hypercar are scarce, but the company has been clear about its intention of releasing a follow-up to the LaFerrari-rivalling 918 Spyder.

In an interview with Top Gear at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, Porsche sports car chief Frank-Steffen Walliser said the next hypercar “must achieve” a lap time considerably lower than the six minutes and 57 seconds achieved by the 918 Spyder at the 12.9-mile Nurburgring circuit in Germany. 

“I don’t care about the drivetrain, six minutes and 30 seconds is the target. Sports cars are defined by their performance, then we have to look how to achieve it,” said Walliser. 

The upcoming hypercar isn’t expected to arrive until at least 2023, giving Porsche plenty of time to perfect the design.

The next 918 may adopt elements from the company’s 917 Living Legend concept [pictured top] that appeared earlier this year to mark the 50-year anniversary of the firm’s 917 Le Mans racer. 

Although the concept won’t make production, Evo says the retro hypercar serves as a “design study” -  meaning some elements could make their way onto future products. 

Is an all-electric hypercar on the cards?

Not at the moment. Although Porsche released its first all-electric model a few months ago in the form of Taycan, company chief Oliver Blume believes that the technology is not advanced enough for a super sports model. 

He told Autocar that solid state battery technology - which he described as “new-found standards in EV weight, efficiency and range potential” compared with today’s lithium-ion packs - was not progressing as quickly as originally had been hoped. 

As such, “the technology will not be available in the sort of production quantities required to underpin the new model until the second half of the next decade”, the motoring magazine says.

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