Porsche to Enter Hybrid Market with $650,000 918 Spyder

The supervisory board of Porsche AG has signed off on production of a new hybrid version of the 918 Spyder.

The concept version of the hybrid 918 can reportedly go from a standing stop to 100 kilometers in a mere 3.2 seconds and may surpass the Carrera GT as Porsche’s most expensive model.

The German automaker will develop the production model at its research facilities located near the company’s home base of Stuttgart. Production will take place at the automaker’s main production plant in Zuffenhausen.

At last March’s Geneva Motor Show, Porsche unveiled three hybrid models, including the 918. Porsche said it has already received more than 2,000 non-binding requests for the new hybrid 918. In April, the company’s head of development, Wolfgang Duerheimer, said a minimum of 1,000 sales pledges would be needed in order to begin building the vehicle.

Commerzbank AG analyst Daniel Schwarz said Porsche’s entrée into the hybrid market makes sense on a number of levels. Schwarz said, “The introduction of hybrids is now happening at all carmakers, with all models and Porsche has above average carbon dioxide emissions,” and added, “It would also make sense to do it with the Cayenne as you would get the best results as far as carbon dioxide emissions are concerned.”

The two-seat 918 hybrid has a top speed of 320 kilometers per hour and is powered by an electric drive-system that permits the driver to operate the vehicle up to 25 kilometers on pure electric power before switching to its 500 hp V-8 engine.

The hybrid 918 is expected to be priced at about 5000,000 euros or $660,000. The automaker’s most expensive model is currently the Carrera GT which is priced at 453,000 euros. Only about 1,500 Carrera GTs were produced.

Equinet AG analyst Tim Schuldt said he believes deliveries of the hybrid 918 could begin as early as 2013.

Last week, Porsche reached an agreement with workers that it says will preserve jobs and increase productivity through at least 2015. In the agreement, Porsche committed to build the 918 Spyder hybrid on the condition there is sufficient interest from buyers.

Porsche intends to add additional models to its lineup and hopes to increase its annual sales to as many as 150,000 units in the near future.

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