A New Age Of Power

Sports cars going hybrid

Porsche 918

Courtesy Porsche

The Porsche 918 can make a claim that other supercars can’t: It’s a blueprint for what everyday sports cars will be like in the next few years. Unlike models in the past, they won’t have huge engines with bad fuel economy. Instead, they will rely on electric motors and quick-charging batteries supplemented by smaller gas engines.

The pitch for hybrid sports cars has been clear for some time; battery power delivers an instant jolt of acceleration—the 918, for instance, hits 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. But the 918 stands apart in its ability to fully recharge cells while driving. (Typical plug-in hybrids get only a trickle of power while the car’s in motion and need to be plugged in once depleted.) When the 918’s battery is spent, the car’s brakes and engine act as generators, recharging the cells in a matter of minutes and readying the car for another electric boost. The unique powertrain portends a future in which performance will be tied to the efficiency of a battery, not the power of an engine.

2015 Porsche 918 Spyder

Engine: 4.6-liter V8 and two electric motors

Horsepower: 887 (combined output)

Fuel economy: 22 mpg (gas only), 67 mpg-e (electric only)

Price: $845,000

Other Car News You Should Care About

  1. Men really do drool over hot cars, at least when women are involved. A study at Northwestern University found that men who were shown pictures of attractive women followed by images of sports cars salivated more.

  2. Too much carbon-dioxide can cause drowsiness, so engineers at Hyundai placed a CO2 sensor in the 2015 Genesis. When the level of CO2 exceeds 2,000 parts per million, the sensor triggers an infusion of fresh air into the cabin.

  3. A study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy has shown that the production of biofuels from corn waste, such as stalks, releases 7 percent more greenhouse gases than gasoline emissions—too high for it to qualify as a renewable fuel source.

  4. A new feature in the 2015 GMC Canyon will make it safer for children to ride in the jump seat of midsize pickups. Parents can use the headrest from the rear passenger side to extend the seat cushion and better secure a car seat.

This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Popular Science.