Porsche says no to fully electric cars - for now
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While German carmaker Porsche admits to being seriously interested in electric cars, it also believes that current battery technology is not yet advanced enough for the high-performance brand to develop production series EVs (Electric Vehicles).
Thomas Becki, director product and technical press for Porsche, spoke to CarAdvice about the issue at the recent launch of the 911 Targa 4 GTS in Spain.
“Of course Porsche is looking at pure electric vehicles; we’ve already done a pure electric Boxter a couple of years ago but that was a research vehicle. We don’t see that the current technology is where it needs to be to provide the typical Porsche feel and driver dynamic, as well as sufficient range in an all-electric setup,” Becki said.
“Our electric cars now are plug-in hybrids, and they perform wonderfully. You get all the electric kick, emissions benefits and very good fuel economy considering the performance,” he added.
In fact, sales of Porsches two plug-in hybrid series models – the Cayenne S E-Hybrid and Panamera S E-Hybrid have more than doubled in less than a year, going from around 5 per cent of sales to well over 10 per cent and growing.
Odds are that Porsche will add a plug-in hybrid to the popular Macan range, but with demand currently outstripping production that might be a while coming, along with a GTS version of the Audi Q5-size SUV.
The pinnacle of Porsche’s current road-going plug-in hybrid technology is the 918 Spyder supercar. Armed with 652kW of power it can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 2.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 345km/h. It also consumes just 3.1 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.
Becki said that he is free to use the technology in other model lines, including the 911.
“Our board members have repeatedly said that we can use the same hybrid technology for the 911, but its expensive, so its just not going to happen next week, or even for the current model facelift, which we will reveal at this year’s Frankfurt motor show. For the next generation, though, I would say that a 911 plug-in hybrid looks feasible.
“So at Porsche, we believe the best electric car you can have today is a plug-in hybrid. That doesn’t mean we won’t do an all-electric car, but we don’t believe the technology is where it needs to be when it comes to a Porsche vehicle,” he went on to say.
Becki also said Porsche has been looking closely at US-based electric vehicle manufacturer, Tesla, and while he agrees they are the benchmark in EV manufacturing at the moment, battery technology still falls short of the mark, as far as Porsche is concerned.
“Whist we admire Tesla’s Model S sedan (we’ve even bought one to study) if we were to drive it at the permissible high speeds in Germany (like so many Porsche owners do), say from Munich to Frankfurt, the advertised range of around 430 kilometres would likely be severely reduced and potentially not enough charge would be available for the round trip commute.
“I think it’s going to be at least five years before EV technology is where it needs to be, at least for Porsche,” he concluded.