Caught in a legal­web

De­spite the hype around the 918 Spy­der, Aus­tralia will miss out, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

THE Porsche 918 Spy­der is a goer. An over­whelm­ing global re­ac­tion to the Ger­man sports car spe­cial­ist’s first hy­brid su­per­car has pro­vided the power for a pro­duc­tion go-ahead. So that’s the good news. But the bad news for Aus­tralia is there is zero chance of lo­cal sales.

The 918 will only be built in left­hand drive and the only Aussies with a hope of land­ing one of the pro­duc­tion cars— prob­a­bly 918 to match its type num­ber — are col­lec­tors who do not plan to drive it on lo­cal roads.

Michael Win­kler, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Porsche Cars Aus­tralia, says: ‘‘The re­al­ity is that the mar­ket here would be ex­tremely limited. And we are the only right-hand-drive mar­ket in the world where you can­not reg­is­ter a left-hand-drive car.

‘‘So it’s left-hand drive only.’’

Win­kler says there were sev­eral strong re­sponses in Aus­tralia to the car and he still sees the po­ten­tial for a cou­ple of sales.

‘‘Col­lec­tors will al­ways be in­ter­ested,’’ he says.

The 918 Spy­der is the spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to Porsche’s pre­vi­ous road­go­ing su­per­car, the Car­rera GT.

Few de­tails have been made pub­lic but it’s ex­pected to launch with a 0-100km/h sprint time of less than four sec­onds and a top speed in the 300km/h re­gion.

But, just as im­por­tantly, Porsche says the 918 will have fuel con­sump­tion of around 3 litres/100km and CO emis­sions of only 70g/km.

Porsche has only built a sin­gle 918 Spy­der for mo­tor-show dis­play work and Win­kler says the real work on its plug-in hy­brid drive sys­tem is just about to be­gin.

He fore­casts a min­i­mum three-year devel­op­ment time. ‘‘The mo­tor-show car works. But it’s very much pro­to­type com­po­nents,’’ Win­kler says.

‘‘The pro­duc­tion date hasn’t been set yet, but there is some de­tailed devel­op­ment work still to be done, par­tic­u­larly in the bat­tery technology and the cost of that technology.

‘‘If you pro­duced the car to­day the cost would be pro­hib­i­tive. But in three or four years’ time things will have im­proved. Devel­op­ment is go­ing ahead in leaps and bounds, and it takes that long any­way to get some of those com­po­nents re­li­able enough for ev­ery­day use.’’

Fan­fare: there has has been huge in­ter­est in Porsche’s hy­brids (clock­wise, from left): the 911 GT3, Cayenne S and the 918 Spy­der.

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