Porsche sees the United States as the largest market for its Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar. The carmaker has been enticing potential customers around the world to acquire the 918 Spyder – which will go into production this fall – through promotional mailings and invitations to private viewings. Porsche has held viewing events for the 918 Spyder in Dallas, Las Vegas, New York, Alabama and California.
The carmaker is planning to build just 918 examples of the hybrid supercar over a two- to three-year life cycle – making the Spyder exclusive to only a less than a thousand owners.
The exclusivity of the supercar is heightened by the fact that the 918 Spyder has a price that starts at $845,000, with deposits of $200,000. According to the carmaker, while the 918 Spyder is not yet sold out, demand for it has been robust. While Porsche didn’t say how many deposits it has taken, spokesman Dave Engelman said that they are on target.
He added that the US market will post average sales of at least one 918 Spyder per dealership, which numbers around 190 across the country. This, however, does not mean that every dealership in the US will get a 918 Spyder, since orders only go to those with deposit-paying customers. To spice up the interest for the plug-in hybrid supercar, Porsche released new spec details.
According to the carmaker, the 918 Spyder's 4.6-liter V-8 engine and two electric motors will provide a combined 887 hp, a significant increase from the previous figure of 770 hp. This amount of power helps the car accelerate from zero to 62 mph in just 2.8 seconds and achieve a top speed of at least 211 mph. In pure electric mode, the 918 Spyder can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in seven seconds and reach a top speed of 93 mph, with a range of 18 miles.
Engelman remarked that the plug-in hybrid supercar will make a profit as a stand-alone, and Porsche plans to use the technology in “other places, too." Porsche will unveil the production version of the 918 Spyder at the Frankfurt auto show in September 2013. The carmaker will commence official production on September 18, 2013 with Europe getting the first dig of the supercar. US customers could expect to receive their 918 Spyders in the first quarter of 2014.
Taking inspiration from motorsport design, the multi-link chassis of the Porsche 918 Spyder is complemented by further elements like the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive shock-absorber system and rear-axle steering. PASM is basically an electro-mechanical speed-sensitive adjustment system on each wheel on the rear, allowing steering angles of up to three degrees on each direction.
This means that the driver could steer the rear axle in the same or opposite direction to the front wheels. When moving at low speeds, PASM steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to its front counterparts, thereby shortening the wheelbase and making cornering faster, more direct and more precise. Moreover, this process reduces the turning circle. When moving at higher speeds, the rear wheels are steered in the same direction as their front counterparts, thereby lengthening the wheelbase while making the rear end more stable during lane changing.
As dynamic and powerful as the Porsche 918 Spyder is, it needs tires that ensure optimal grip and handling on all road types. Likewise, it needs tires that are durable on the track and that feature low rolling resistance. All these attributes were met by the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, as developed by the tire experts from Michelin. Remarkably, around 550 prototype tires were produced and tested during the testing period, just to ensure that such attributes were retained.
Moreover, Michelin had produced around 400 pre-production prototypes and 200 series test specimens before Porsche eventually decided that the right tires have been developed for the 918 Spyder. Thankfully, the 918 Spyder is fitted as standard with specially tuned Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, which are sized 265/35 ZR 20 for the front and 325/30 ZR 21 for the rear.