• Porsche assembles all 918 Spyder models in Zuffenhausen, Germany, in a building adjoined to the 911 production line. The large well-lit room used to be a dedicated 911 paint shop, but it was re-purposed and completely remodeled with white walls and floors, accented with Porsche's signature "hybrid" Acid Green paint.

    The room is remarkably quiet, lacking the clatter and crashing of pneumatic power tools and stamping equipment. Instead, there is only the whir of Bluetooth-enabled battery operated electric hand tools that keep a digital record of all of their work. That silence carries through the production — the 918 models, when completed, drive out of the assembly hall under silent electric power. 

    There are 110 assembly workers in the room, both men and women, who are assigned to one of 15 different assembly stations. The line remains absolutely motionless for 111 minutes before moving forward one station — usually just a few feet away. The work is slow and meticulous — on a typical day, just four new 918 Spyders will leave the factory.
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • Delivered in a steel-framed container, the 918's tub — the building block for this vehicle's platform — is made from resin-injected carbon-fiber, manufactured by CarboTech in neighboring Austria (the company also builds tubs for McLaren).

    While all of the tubs arrive in a sturdy shipping box, this particular example is unique because the customer ordered a special matte finish on the door sills (they are exposed on the finished vehicle). The team is inspecting the unique craftsmanship before assembly begins. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • Door panels arrive in their own shipping container, painted and nearly completely assembled with the exception of interior trim (which will be hand crafted and installed during the build).

    Note the side airbag housing (the large black plastic rectangle just below the window sill) that has a remote pressure cylinder (the silver tube several inches below it) to optimize its packaging. The gray material is a lightweight foam used for acoustic and temperature insulation. The wires are wrapped tightly in a cloth tape.  
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • This computer screen, which is located in the upholstery department, tells the worker everything they need to know in terms of specifications — proper color-coding on the monitor prevents mistakes.

    Each vehicle is assigned a production number, which is coded with all specifications. In addition to each worker signing off on their assigned stages, many of the tools communicate wirelessly with the mainframe computers. This ensures that all of the assembly steps are completed correctly and allows errors to be traced back to their origins.
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • This interior console, constructed of a lightweight, pressed-wood fiber core that makes a very solid base, is sprayed with tacky glue before an artisan covers it with high-grade leather — all of the work is done by hand.

    Customers may order an infinite number of combinations, with just about any type of material or color, which are all handled by the upholstery team.  
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) are standard fitment on the 918 Spyder, and they arrive as a bolt-on set — complete with hubs and axles.

    Temporary steel hardware (bright silver) has been mounted on the two rear assemblies, which allows the electric crane to lift the unit out of their shipping container and on to a table for assembly. The calipers are painted Porsche's hybrid signature Acid Green, regardless of the vehicle's exterior color.
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • This box contains front drive motors. The axles, connected to the front wheels, will bolt where the yellow bands are at each side while the thick orange cable will hook into the high-voltage hybrid electric system.

    Temporary steel hardware (bright silver with a knurled knob at the top) has been attached to the motor in the lower right corner to allow an electric winch to pull it out of the shipping container. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • This multi-level rolling tray holds an assortment of suspension and steering components, each one set into a perfectly sized foam cutout, which will all fit on one 918 Spyder.

    The items on the top rack are carbon-fiber covers, while four coil-over dampers and a couple of controls arms are on the second rack. The bottom rack contains the front steering rack and more control arms. Each item has a specific place on the tray to ensure that nothing is left out. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • After the brake assemblies are removed from their shipping container, they are placed on a special rolling rig for inspection and adjustment before being bolted onto the tub. The brakes arrive with pads already loaded into the calipers, but without the brake lines.

    In this image, the worker on the left is removing the temporary hardware that allows the electric winch to lift it from the shipping container. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • Loaded on a wheeled dolly, the front clip, complete with electric drive motor, steering rack, suspension, hubs and brakes, waits to be assembled into the nose of a 918.

    After inspection, it will be rolled over the tub and lifted into place. The heavy orange cables will be connected to the high-voltage electric system, while the steering column will bolt onto the yellow fitting (seen near the middle of the image). 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • The carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFP) monocoque passenger tub is mounted on a motorized arm that allows it to be rotated 360 degrees, and it can be raised or lowered to ease assembly.

    In this picture, two workers are installing the main wiring harness (orange) for the hybrid power system. An aluminum water line (silver), to cool the battery, is also visible. The large open space, to the right of the female worker, will be occupied by the primary drive battery. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • A master technician assembles the 918's hand-built 4.6-liter V8 with the help of a powerful motorized engine stand that allows him to spin the block 360 degrees around its axis and adjust its height. All of the parts and components needed for assembly are located on the tray just behind the technician. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • This is the best look you'll ever get of the 4.6-liter, race-bred V8 that powers the Porsche 918 — fully assembled and waiting for its turn on the dynamometer (plastic caps, in white, red and yellow, prevent debris from entering the engine).

    The 90-degree V8, with titanium connecting rods and a redline of 9,150 rpm, will be nestled deep inside the chassis and all but buried from view when the vehicle is finished.
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • After a thorough test on a dynamometer, the engine is mounted inside the rear powertrain carrier.

    This very light, but stiff, structural component is made of pre-impregnated woven carbon fiber, which attaches direct to the back of the carbon-fiber monocoque passenger tub with six hefty bolts.  
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • Mimicking an operating room, all of the tools and components needed to assemble the 4.6-liter V8 arrive neatly organized on a tray. Most of the valvetrain is visible in this picture, with valves, springs, cam gear, chains and guides all easily identified. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • Seen in this image are the aluminum head, cam sprockets and timing chain of the 4.6-liter V8 during assembly. When finished, the dry-sump powerplant will develop 608 horsepower without any assistance from the electric motors. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • The carbon-fiber tub, with most of its primary wiring in place, is hoisted high by a forklift so the battery pack may be moved into position beneath – and slightly to the rear – of the passenger compartment. This placement keeps the center of gravity very low.

    The 6.8 kWh, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, which weighs as much as the combustion engine, is completely self-contained and held in place by several bolts. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • With the exception of its two exposed tips, the exhaust system is mostly hidden from view in the finished 918. The exhaust system arrives completely assembled as a unit with catalytic converters and heat shielding in place.

    Constructed primarily of Inconel, an austenitic nickel-chromium-based superalloy, it is highly resistant to heat and corrosion (the material is so strong that North American Aviation constructed the skin of its X-15 rocket plane out of an Inconel alloy).
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • A superb view of the underside of the 918 Spyder, without its bodywork, bumper or aerodynamic lower fairing in place.

    Easily viewed are the extruded aluminum beams, which are designed to crush in an accident, and the mounting points for the rear suspension. The engine's flat sump is light blue, in the center of the image.
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • A view from the right rear of the 918, looking over the right rear brake rotor, which shows the motor tasked with moving the rear-wheel steering mechanism. The coil-over suspension is visible to the left of the image. The large red panel at the top is one of two air filters for the combustion engine. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • Still lacking nearly all of its body panels, the tub is fitted with the various pumps and liquid cooling lines that will serve to keep the engine, motors and battery pack within proper operating temperatures.

    The large blue panel, on the left side of the image, is a cover to protect the radiator from damage during assembly. The red item at the bottom, with the pressure cylinder next to it, is used to raise and lower the body to ease assembly. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • At the nose of the 918 Spyder, a massive six-piston caliper hovers over the drilled and ventilated carbon-ceramic brake rotor (PCCB).

    While the front suspension is being installed, a temporary assembly jig (the silver horizontal bar near the top of the image) holds everything in place. The metal pipes, running along the bottom of the tub, carry liquid coolant from the radiator in the nose to the combustion engine and battery pack behind the passenger cell. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • A technician works beneath the 918 chassis, about 75 percent complete at this stage. The engine and battery have been installed, as have the front and rear suspension and steering components. 

    Aerodynamic panels — most painted, but some not — will cover just about every surface, and restrict access to wiring, cooling lines and motors, so they are the last to be installed. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • This yellow 918 (the only one of its color in the building) is being prepared for its rear wing and other body panels. Porsche has special floor jacks, which bolt onto the single lug hubs, to allow the suspension to support the weight of the vehicle as the panels are precisely fit by hand.

    Each of the vehicles on the assembly line has a VIN, but they are not sequential as customers have made special requests for specific numbers out of order.
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • The vehicle's electrical system has been powered at this late stage of assembly, so many of the components may be tested (one 918's stereo was playing "Don't You Want Me," from the Human League — how appropriate).

    Protective covers and cardboard protect the delicate surfaces from being accidentally damaged or marred during assembly. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
Forged magnesium wheel
  • Forged magnesium wheel
  • Center-lock forged magnesium wheels are part of the 918's $84,000 Weissach Package, reducing curb weight from 3,715 pounds to 3,616 pounds. Other weight-saving components include ceramic wheel bearings, titanium bolts in the chassis and lighter brakes.

    Weissach package models are painted with a special coating, to protect the carbon-fiber skin, and then wrapped in vinyl (paint colors or classic racing themes — Gulf Oil, as an example) for protection. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • Near the end of the line, this Weissach Package 918 is awaiting its wheels. In addition to the hidden weight savings, the Weissach models are easily identified by their carbon-fiber aero fairings just aft of the rear wheels (to the right of the worker's head in this image). 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL
  • The completed 918 Spyder rests under special fluorescent lights for its final inspection before leaving the assembly floor — an event that happens up to four times per day. There is no fuel in its gasoline tank, which would prevent it from operating on public roads, but special software allows its electric motors to power — silently — out of the building.

    With the entire production run now spoken for, Porsche estimates that the last 918 Spyder will roll out of the assembly plant in July of 2015. 
  • Image Credit: Michael Harley / AOL

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