Americans charging $100,000 to turn Porsche into a hybrid
A SKUNK works Silicon Valley workshop has beaten Porsche to the punch in creating a hybrid version of the 911 sports car.
Better still, the aftermarket kits claimed to substantially boost performance should eventually be able to be fitted to every 911 back to 1965.
The Shadow Drive kits were created by start-up company Vonnen and include a 150 horsepower (112kW) electric motor sandwiched between the engine and gearbox. The motor also makes 203Nm of torque.
There's also a liquid-cooled 1.0kWh battery pack and power invertor to control the switch from AC to DC current.
As part of the hybrid conversion the original flywheel and starter motor are removed, the modifications adding 77kg to the car.
There are even four driving modes - Off, Street, Sport and Overboost - that can be controlled via a smartphone app that connects wirelessly to the electric drive system.
The Vonnen kits were engineered by Bill Davis, who has previously worked for NASA and Tesla and the company is headed by Chuck Moreland, the founder of Elephant Racing, known for its aftermarket suspension systems for Porsches.
So there are high expectations in the quality of the kits, something that translates to the price. Each kit costs US$75,000 ($105,000) before sales tax.
Plus, you have to ship your car to the factory in Santa Clara, California - for now, at least.
A company spokesman told News that Vonnen was considering authorising selected outlets to install the kits.
"We are talking with shops about the possibility of partnering with us to act as remote install and service locations in several international markets," he said.
Plus, the kits can be installed on left- and right-hand drive cars, meaning Porsches sold in Australia can benefit from the hybrid systems.
For now, the kits can be fitted to any 991-generation 911 or 981-generation Boxster or Cayman from 2012 to 2018.
An example on the Vonnen website estimates the 0-96km/h time for a 2012 911 Carrera would drop from 4.4 seconds to 3.0 seconds by using the kit.
It can even be fitted to 911 Turbo models, further improving performance of one of the world's most accomplished supercars.
While the electric motor promises a decent boost for a modern 911, it should seriously spice up the earlier cars, which had much less power.
In some cases, the 112kW motor will double the power output, providing an easy performance upgrade.
Early reviews are mostly positive, Autocar reporting "the electrically charged performance seems subtly applied" but creates a car that is "deceptively quick".
Motor Trend says there is "no monster surge of acceleration" but that the motor "ramps up the power quickly … as if the engine has found some extra power it forgot about".
However, Motor Trend pointed out the small electric motor can run out of charge if you're accelerating for extended periods (the battery charges when braking).
Porsche is also working on a hybrid system for its just-released 992-generation 911. It allowed space between the engine and gearbox for an electric motor, something likely around 2022.