Porsche’s plug-in hybrid enthusiasm shows no signs of abating

It may sound surprising, but Porsche is one of biggest proponents of plug-in hybrids.

From the 918 Spyder supercar to the plug-in versions of the Cayenne and Panamera, Porsche has done more to promote this powertrain layout than just about any other carmaker.

The German company known more for sports cars than green cars plans to stick with plug-in hybrids, according to global sales boss Bernhard Maier, who expressed his enthusiasm for them in a recent interview with Automotive News (subscription required).

He apparently commutes to Porsche’s headquarters near Stuttgart in a Cayenne or Panamera plug-in, and every day he tries to make the 56-mile roundtrip with zero emissions. He says he tries to coast and rely on the cars’ regenerative braking to recover energy as much as possible. Clearly, he’s in a different mindset than the stereotypical Porsche driver.

He said plug-in hybrids are the best green-technology choice for Porsche because of their flexibility, particularly when paired with home or work charging to maximize electric-only driving. It’s an important consideration as carmakers work to meet tougher global emissions standards, and cities look to reduce air pollution by encouraging the use of electrified vehicles.

Maier said around 10 percent of Panamera customers currently opt for the plug-in powertrain; the plug-in Cayenne was only recently introduced. With strong government incentives though, he said electrified vehicles could eventually attain a market share of up to 50 percent.

That doesn’t mean every Porsche will come with a plug, though. Maier balked at the idea of a 911 plug-in hybrid, but noted that the 918 Spyder has shown the technology’s performance potential.

An all-electric Porsche also seems unlikely at the moment. The company built a handful of Boxster-based test cars back in 2011, but it recently denied reports that it’s working on an electric powertrain for its next sedan, the “Pajun” or “Panamera Junior.”