California-based Vonnen has a clever hybrid-electric conversion that adds up to 350 horsepower.
We know a hybrid version of the Porsche 911 is coming. Porsche CEO Oliver Blume stated as much, saying earlier this year that a plug-in 911 could arrive in a few years when the soon-to-be-unveiled 992-series gets a mid-cycle refresh. The team at Vonnen isn’t interested in waiting that long, and if you have $75,000 (and a Porsche 911, obviously), you don’t have to wait either.
Road & Track tipped us off to the California-based firm, and the setup looks pretty darned slick. In short, the company adds a battery to the 911’s frunk, a modest electric motor to the engine, and a power inverter to the rear shelf to convert the battery’s juice to something the motor can use. Yes, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but honestly, not by much.
Mounting the battery and the inverter isn’t a tremendous effort. It’s the motor that grabs our attention as being rather ingenious – it takes the place of the stock 911’s flywheel, fitting rather conveniently in its place. Extra cooling is required for the electric motor and the battery, and of course, there’s a separate computer to run it all. Once it’s hooked up, Vonnen’s hybrid system adds 175 horsepower (130.5 kilowatts) and 150 pound-feet (200 Newton-meters) of torque to the existing mill, whether it's a naturally aspirated Carerra or a Turbo S. If that's not enough, a stage two kit can add 350 hp (261 kW) with even greater levels of instant-on torque.
Perhaps most impressive, however, is the weight. The conversion only adds 120 pounds to a stock 911.
How is that possible? Aside from the system itself being relatively compact, the conversion eliminates quite a few weighty Porsche items. The flywheel is obviously gone, but so is the starter for the gas engine – the electric motor handles that duty. The car battery is also ditched, and it should be noted that Vonnen bills this not so much as an efficiency booster, but a performance upgrade. Batteries and electric motors aren't a large as you might find in other hybrid setups.
Vonnen has built one hybrid 911 so far and is ready to offer the package to the public. Right now it’s compatible for any 2012-2016 911, as well as the Boxster and Cayman. Kits for other 911 generations – including air-cooled models – are currently in development, and the kit will work on all-wheel-drive models too, though installation takes a bit more effort.
It may not be a silent-running 911 that we’ll likely see from Porsche, but there’s no denying the performance potential from an electrically-boosted flat-six.