Porsche hybrids destined to flop? Not likely

Porsche has been quick to adopt plug-in hybrid technology. Quicker, in fact, than any of its Volkswagen Group sibling brands, which includes Audi and Volkswagen itself.

This shouldn’t surprise us though, because Porsche has frequently prioritized technology that will make its cars quicker without getting hung up on sentimental issues.

The company’s engineers are fans of all-wheel drive and engine turbo charging, for instance, despite a widely held belief that rear-wheel drive and atmospheric engines offer a purer driving experience. Ferrari certainly thinks so.

Like all-wheel drive and turbo charging, electric motors have an unjust reputation for sullying performance. Until the Tesla Model S arrived that was because most electric cars were slow, and in performance terms the heavy battery packs they need for power blunt acceleration and handling.

Calibrated just right, however, electric motors can make a gasoline car much faster, which is why Porsche had few reservations about using two of them in its latest showpiece, the 918 Spyder. The car explodes off the line thanks to all-wheel drive and hefty torque from its electric motors, but it also returns 78 mpg US.

Similar plug-in hybrid technology has emigrated to the latest Panamera, Porsche’s four-door sports sedan (review), and so far it’s been an unexpected (Porsche may beg to differ with that) success.

Of the 16,698 examples delivered worldwide this year, 1,513 Panamera’s were plug-in hybrids, and US drivers have bought into the technology – which allows for short commutes using electric power alone – more than most. Over here the Panamera S E-Hybrid enjoys a solid 16 percent share of sales, despite its swollen price tag compared to other variants.

Buoyed by that success and the need to reduce average fleet carbon dioxide emissions, Porsche will introduce a similar version of the Cayenne SUV in Paris next week, and don’t be surprised to see a Cajun S E-Hybrid next year, either.

With a hybrid version of the consecrated 911 seen testing at the Nürburgring, too, there’s little doubt that Porsche is embracing the technology fully. As with everything from small roadsters, to SUVs, to million-dollar hypercars, when Porsche commits to an idea the result is usually class leading.

Plug-in hybrid SUVs could well be the next big thing in the automotive world, and Porsche is well positioned to capitalize on its early advantage.

Posted by Richard Lane

Richard is a London-based automotive journalist specialising in future mobility and sustainable design. Having fallen for cars because of the virtues of a particular German flat-six, it's what we'll all be driving next that now interests Richard most. Dream garage: Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior and a Detroit Electric SP:01.

  1. Comment was cut again by this site, ending meaningless….
    All 2014 models will fail, due to far too expensive, and set with a ridiculous all electric mode relying on less than 100 HP electric motor power and ridiculous less then 10 KWH battery packs. Tu jump in that SUV PHEV wagon, I need a good all elctric mode that can allow me do all my local commutes all electric. Requires 200 HP motors and 30KWH battery pack. Calling 2014 models with current setting PHEVs is misleading, as their electric mode is nothing else than an extra electric turbo added on top of a big ICE engine meant to be used all the time de facto.

    Reply

    1. Hi Pat,

      Can you email me the original comment, in its entirety, to richardlane@ecomento.com please?

      We’ll see what the problem is,

      Thanks,

      Richard

      Reply

      1. Richard, I did no save it before pressing send button…. Not sure if it cuts a part in the middle when it’s just too long (say at random), or if the use of special characters trigger that, like > or # or else. But as you can see in my original post here, its leaves some special characters (one of each seams ok, not sure when there are several like when I say I want an “all electric mode” with >200 HP electric motors power and >30 KWH of battery.
        By the way I’ll go to the 2014 Paris Motor show during this week end. I want to see all new PHEV concepts, plus the Porsche Cayenne final PHEV model (Starting price was said # 76K USD $ in the US, not sure how they translate this in € Euro), and the new Highlander PHEV model S concept (Solving greatest issue of that best PHEV SUV so far…. That was ugly compared to my reference German SUVs), then the other WW group PHEVs and Mercedes, all set on the wrong Panamera PHEV concept in my view. I bet I’ll find nothing to buy before mid next year there unfortunatly, as no European car maker is serious about doing a good PHEV SUV so far. They only play games with EU regulations to minimize taxes….. Sorry to say it, but that’s what they do in Europe.

        Reply

  2. This tool truncates the messages, so they mean nothing once loaded….
    All 2014 models will fail, due to far too expensive, and set with a ridiculous all electric mode using < 100 HP motor and <10 KWH batteries. Means this electric mode is only set as an extra electric Turbo meant to work de facto with an always on ICE engine, and only kid the EU regulations.
    I hope next year MACAN PHEV will be set with a real "all Electric mode" including 150 to 200 KW of Electric engine power (Possibly split over 2 motors) and a 30KWH battery pack, then don't mind if a 4 x Cylinder ICE is behind.

    Reply

  3. All 2014 models will fail, due to far too expensive, and set with a ridiculous all electric mode using < 100 HP motor and 130KM of EV range, means only one charge every 2 x days to make my # 65KM of daily local commutes, so a good quality 3000 x cycles battery can last more than 15 x years (Instead of # 5 years hence a pityfull resale value here). Then the ICE could be cut to a 4 x Cylinders, if only used for longer week-end and vacation trips, so it can fit into the same €60K starting price as current 6 x Cyl Models S in Europe (Means €75K final price with the usual options). A level where there is still a decent market volume in that luxury compact SUV space…. That could be my 1st Porsche ever… Or I’ll wait more to change by beloved BMW 530DA…

    Reply

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