The prospect of Porsche delivering a brand new mid-engine supercar in direct competition with the Ferrari 488 and McLaren 650S had many car enthusiasts salivating with excitement. However, the planned launch date of 2019 seems to be receding into the far distance as Volkswagen grapples with the financial and reputational fallout from the diesel emission scandal.
The proposed limited-edition, two-seat supercar, generally referred to as the '960,' was destined to occupy a space above the 911 Turbo S and below the 918 Spyder. The plan was to use the VW Group platform occupied by the Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huraca, and equip the new car with an incredible quad-turbo flat eight-cylinder engine that would deliver an impressive 650 HP. However, a recent item in Automotive New reports that the Volkswagen is pushing back production to 2026. Furthermore, VW Group's CEO, Matthias Müller, stated in 2015 that "any project that is not absolutely necessary will be cancelled or postponed." The outlook for this exciting new supercar, likely to cost customers a cool $250,000, is therefore looking increasingly dim. Instead, Porsche seems to be focusing on the next generation 911, known as the 992, which is expected to be launched in early 2018.
The first hints that the new supercar project was definitely underway came in September 2015 when Porsche successfully applied for and was granted the '960' trademark. A body structure formed mostly from aluminum, and including high-strength steel, titanium and composites where necessary, enables the target weight of the all-wheel drive supercar to be around 1500kg. This should yield an impressive 0-62 mph speed of around 2.5 seconds. A low center of gravity helps the car cling to the tarmac while the cleverly designed variable compression ratio technology combines smoother running with greater efficiency. Rumor has it that a heavily modified Cayman is already in use, testing out the new 960 engine.
With so much excitement and anticipation bubbling up around this new supercar, you would think Porsche would be eager to get moving and start production. So why the delay? Volkswagen Group has already set aside a total of $18 billion following the revelation that the company had installed software to cheat on its diesel emission tests. As a result, company profits plunged by 20 percent. The Volkswagen Group's woes have been further exacerbated by the acknowledgement that some of its oldest 2-liter diesels will continue to emit as much as 40 times the permitted amounts of NOx after they have been fixed. The German car manufacturer is therefore committed to paying $2.7 billion to federal and California regulators to fund pollution-reduction projects and a further $603 million to resolve consumer and environmental claims across 44 U.S. states. The car maker might also have to buy back thousands of luxury vehicles that California regulators say cannot be fixed to an acceptable level. Experts estimate that the total cost to the company for the U.S. alone could be as much as a staggering $30 billion.
VW branded cars have been worst hit by the scandal with Audi faring slightly better. However, Porsche, Skoda and Seat sales are holding up well and delivering a profit, possibly because many customers don't make the link between these well-known brands and the VW parent company. Müller acknowledges that "2016 will be a transitional year for Volkswagen that will see us fundamentally realign the group." There is no doubt that the overall integrity of the brand has been compromised and shareholders are taking the hit. With so much uncertainty and the true cost of the scandal yet to be finalized, VW is acting responsibly in putting its exciting new supercar on the back burner until the future of the company is assured.