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Porsche reveals Le Mans prototype hybrid in Geneva

Among a host of exciting concepts debuting at the Geneva Motor Show appeared the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 Le Mans prototype: the hybrid vehicle that will take part in the World Endurance Championships, including the 24hrs of Le Mans.

Development of the Porsche 919 Hybrid (pictured) began back in 2011: with the emphasis placed on new rules that mean that it won't be the fastest car that wins the championship: it will be the car that goes the furthest with a defined amount of energy. According to Matthias Muller, the chairman of Porsche AG, the 919 Hybrid is the most complex race car that Porsche has ever built.

Porsche 919 Hybrid Le Mans Prototype

Driving the vehicle's impressive efficiency levels is a drive system based on a 2.0litre V4 petrol engine that is both lightweight and compact. It reaches a maximum speed of around 9,000rpm and includes direct injection, a single turbocharger and thermodynamic recovery capabilities.

In addition, two energy recovery systems are included. The first sees an electric generator powered by exhaust gases recover thermal energy; while the second is a hybrid system on the front axle that makes the most of brake recuperation to convert kinetic energy into electric energy.

Electric energy is stored in water-cooled lithium-ion battery packs from A123Systems. When the driver needs to use the stored power, the front motor will drive the front wheels through a differential.

In addition, the chassis of the Porsche 919 Hybrid features a hat tip to Formula One: it consists of a carbon fibre monocoque that combines lightweight materials with torsional rigidity.

Aerodynamics have also been analysed: with the aim being to reduce air drag while increasing the force needed for high speed corners. The vehicle must meet strict dimensions of no more than 183.1inches in length, 41.3inches in height and 70.8-74.8inches in width.

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Paul Lucas

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