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Tony O'Kane | Jul 28, 2009

A PORSCHE PROTOTYPE has been spotted undergoing testing with a mysterious bulge and an electrical warning label slapped onto its bonnet, sparking speculation that the German carmaker is accelerating development of a hybrid powertrain.

The photographer who snapped these images reported that the 911 Cabrio-based development car was unusually quiet for a Porsche, and when the engineers driving it noticed his camera, they set off at a speed which he couldn't match.

But could the bonnet bulge and warning sticker just be a clever diversion designed to confuse rubbernecking photgraphers?

porsche_911_hybrid_mule_03_s

Spotted on the nose of the test mule was a Batman emblem, offering a hint that the engineers at Porsche have a quirky sense of humour, and suggesting that the bulky appendage on the bonnet could also be just another joke.

But, with impending legislation set to force manufacturers to lower their corporate average fuel economy, a fuel-sipping hybrid Porsche remains a distinct possibility.

Porsche is still hesitant to introduce an all-electric model into its line-up, but a hybrid powertrain may solve most of the packaging issues suffered by a battery-dependent EV.

Whether this prototype is in fact a hybrid remains to be seen, but with hybrid variants of the Panamera and Cayenne expected to arrive in the near future, odds are a petrol-electric 911 will follow shortly thereafter.

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