Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercarEnlarge Photo
Like many premium automakers, Porsche has been working on hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology for some time now.
But at the recent Vienna Motor Symposium, Porsche Executive Wolfgang Hatz reiterated that the German automaker views plug-in hybrids as a real part of its future, not just a science-fair project.
“Porsche is focusing on the deployment of plug-in hybrid technology in production,” Hatz confirmed, noting that although Porsche was keen to expand its electrification in hybrid models, “the combustion engine will continue to play a vital role for the drive system of sports cars in the foreseeable future.”
In other words, Porsche remains cool towards electric-only cars, but views hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars as essential to its future.
As with many luxury and premium automakers, hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains allow Porsche to continue to produce high-performance sports cars while meeting tough emissions targets. Plug-in hybrid models will also enable Porsche to retain its sales figures in cities where zero-emissions cordons prevent access to all except plug-in cars, even if that's only with 15 miles of electric range.
In simple terms, hybrid drivetrains provide Porsche with the instant torque of and high low-speed acceleration of an electric motor, while retaining the power of a gasoline engine at higher speeds.
For customers too, hybrid drivetrains offer increased gas mileage, something that Hatz credits as being a driving factor towards positive sales figures of its existing Panamera and Cayenne hybrids.
“The sales figures for the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid for 2011 are more than twice as high as the figures for all our competitors combined in this market segment,” he said.
With its 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid sports car already planned for a U.S. launch by the end of 2013, Porsche is well under way to making its first commercial plug-in hybrid.
Porsche 918 Spyder ConceptEnlarge Photo
But which car will be next to get the hybrid or plug-in hybrid treatment?
Porsche won’t say, but we’d expect its existing hybrids are ideal candidates for plug-in upgrades, while the thought of combining the powerful 911-Turbo S with a powerful hybrid electric drivetrain leaves us positively tingling in anticipation.
Until we see plug-in hybrid Porsches at dealers however, Porsche’s plug-in future remains just as much about emissions compliance as so many other plug-in vehicles being touted by eager automakers this year.
Moreover, Porsche's plug-in future doesn't really depend on Porsche: It depends on the Volkswagen group, which Porsche has yet to legally become part of but is in the process of joining.
Does Porsche’s future really include an array of plug-in hybrids?
Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.