Fast Company

Porsche's Head of Design: The 918 RSR Hybrid Is Made for Performance [Video]

Fast Company sits down with Michael Mauer, Porsche's head of design, to chat about the new supercar.

When Porsche announced last Spring that it plans to built a production version of the 918 plug-in hybrid Spyder supercar, green car buffs rejoiced. At this week's Detroit Auto Show, the luxury auto company upped the hybrid supercar ante with the 918 RSR racecar, a modified version of the Spyder hybrid. Fast Company sat down with Michael Mauer, Porsche's head of design, at the Detroit Auto Show and talk about the new vehicle.

The 918 RSR features a a V-8 engine, an ultra-impressive 767 horsepower, and a 36,000 rpm electric flywheel power generator that gathers kinetic energy from the vehicle's wheels and converts it to electricity. Once sufficient electricity is gathered, drivers can press a button to release it for acceleration.

While the 918 Spyder is focused on both performance and fuel economy, the RSR is "purely performance," explains Mauer. It is, he says, the coupe version of the Spyder. The vehicle is fuel efficient in the sense that racecar drivers have to make fewer pitstops than they might with less efficient vehicles, but chances are that everyday drivers won't spring for the RSR--it will cost somewhere in the range of $600,000.

Vehicles like the 918 RSR demonstrate that hybrids can still look like high-performance supercars, Mauer says. Automakers simply have to swap out combustion engines for hybrid engines, but the vehicles can still look the same.

Mauer won't reveal what future hybrid supercars Porsche has in the works, but he's excited about the possibilities of tinier hybrid engines. "As long as the space required for a hybrid engine is the same [as with a combustion engine], the proportions of the car won't change," he says. "Once it requires less space, we can think about a completely different layout."

Porsche hasn't revealed when the RSR will be released.

Read more coverage of the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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