Stuttgart plans to bring a hybrid 911 racing car to both Geneva and the Nurburgring 24-hour race. The press release includes the line "the focus is not on... winning the race." What's wrong with this picture?
110 years ago, Ferdinand Porsche developed the world's first hybrid vehicle. This is a splendidly irrelevant fact that everyone will mention alongside the GT3 R Hybrid but that has nothing to do with the real piece of news. The real news is this: There is a 911 designed expressly for competition, and victory is not its primary goal.
Like all 911s, the hybrid GT3 R sports a horizontally opposed six-cylinder mounted behind, and driving, the rear wheels. Unlike all 911s, however, it has electrically powered front wheels. Two electric motors live underneath the hybrid GT3's nose; they are paired with a 40,000-rpm "electric flywheel power generator" mounted inside the cockpit. Surprisingly, there is no large battery pack (Porsche stated last year that current battery technology did not meet its "strict requirements"). The hybrid system can be used, at the driver's discretion, to provide extra power or fuel efficiency on demand.
An all-wheel-drive Porsche racing car that doesn't run on dirt? A car from Stuttgart that exists not to steamroll the competition but to test what is arguably a stopgap technology? A hybrid 911? Shocked? Maybe you shouldn't be. Porsche is a business, and its product line, by design, is not as single-minded as it once was. We've already seen a truck, a hybrid truck, and a fairly unattractive four-door sedan. Stuttgart has been mumbling about alternative-drivetrain sports cars for years. What did you expect?