The Porsche 918 Spyder: Who Says Green Means Slow?

Back in 2006, I was blessed with the opportunity to talk with Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser.  Currently he’s the Chief Engineer for the Porsche 918 Spyder program.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to say he’s a “bad muddafucka” at VW these days.  It’s a great story that I’ll pass on later.

In 2006, myself and a couple of other co-workers were guests of DHL, the sponsors of Porsche North America, at the American LeMans end of season event at Laguna Seca. Nice event. The first night we went to dinner with the Porsche drivers, crew and corporate types.   We were seated with some Porsche VPs and other assorted muckety-mucks from Germany.  The conversation moved to hybrid cars (I admit I steered it).  One of the VPs parroted the usual “hybrids are slow.”  I pointed out the then recent revelation that, thanks to Al Gore’s son, the world knew that a Prius could go 100 mph.  He pooh-poohed it, as I figured he would.

What I don’t know is whether, almost 10 years later, that guy was giving me the business.  A project like the 918 isn’t something that a global company just comes up with in a couple of years.  Did he know that they were just starting to discuss it?  Maybe, maybe not.  Probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to send a stranger off with that kind of information.  Or, the guy was a dinosaur who didn’t see the light.  If that’s the case, he may not be there anymore.

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Sebastian James

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