Sports cars have always been a lifestyle vehicle; they are cars for people who like speed, agility and, in some cases, enough power to make even the most talented driver be on the edge of control. However, the pure joy and passion of a sports car isn’t protecting the segment from the coming regulations for fleet CO2 emissions. This is where companies like Tesla are ahead of the game, but that isn’t stopping long time sports car manufactures from planning for the future. Porsche, for one, isn’t going to loose market share willingly and is pursuing hybrid technology to reduce its fleet CO2 emissions.
According to Wolfgang Duerheimer, development chief, “In the future, we [Porsche] will have hybrid drive in every model line." Porsche was a hold out in hybrid technology until earlier this year when they announced a hybrid version of its Cayenne SUV. AutoWeek reports that Porsche will also release a hybrid version of its Panamera sedan in 2011; a vehicle that will also use the Cayenne hybrid technology. Early estimates say the Panamera will be able to travel three miles under all-electric power. All in all, 3 miles is pretty impressive for such a large vehicle and performance oriented vehicle.
Also on the horizon is Porsche’s first all-electric sports car. The 918 Spyder is planned to have small production runs that will be begin in a few years; the 918 is no doubt also trying to take back some of the market share lost to Tesla. However, given the cost of all-electric powertrain development (not to mention hybrid powertrains), the company is also looking into four-cylinder engines that could use turbocharging or direct injection to reduce CO2 emissions across the fleet. Other innovative ideas coming out of the Porsche development group include the research and development of carbon car bodies to reduce weight. "A constant weight is our minimum requirement in the change to a new generation, even with compliance with all the new safety and comfort requirements," Duerheimer said. New safety requirements will make it a necessity to reduce vehicle weight by 10 percent for each new generation of vehicle. This is something Duerheimer says is almost unachievable with current technology.
Bottom line—the automotive industry is changing and car companies in all sectors from big to small, economy to sports cars are having to make plans to stay competitive and within the increasingly strict safety and emissions regulations. Porsche looks to be on a five-year plan with most new innovations projected to come in that time.