The Porsche GT3 R Hybrid race car debuted at the Geneva Motor Show today. This unveiling occurs 110 years after Ferdinand Porsche developed the world’s first hybrid automobile, the Lohner-Porsche. Porsche engineers decided to expand on previous designs by creating a very modern high-tech hybrid. Instead of batteries, braking energy is stored in a flywheel generator that can spin up to 40,000 rpm. Power from the generator is available for six to eight seconds following each charge, much like last year’s Formula One race cars.

When the driver wants the extra boost (as much 160 horsepower) a button is pressed on the steering wheel and the stored power is directed to electric motors on the front wheels. This comes in addition to the 480 horsepower generated at the rear wheels by the GT3 R’s 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine. Besides adding power for accelerating and passing, this efficient hybrid system can also save on fuel consumption, thereby potentially reducing fuel weight and the number of pit stops.

While you won’t be able to park this car in your driveway (it’s intended for LeMans endurance racing in 2010), it is based on a production 911. A future 911-type hybrid for public consumption – like the prototype 918 Spyder – is “open for discussion,” said a Porsche spokesperson. Intelligent performance indeed.

(Photo: Courtesy Porsche AG)