Porsche is moving forward with plans to produce and sells its first electric car, but the German automaker is already seeing success with plug-in hybrids.
Over the past few years, Porsche has launched three plug-in models, including the Panamera S E-Hybrid sedan, Cayenne S E-Hybrid SUV, and the now-defunct 918 Spyder supercar.
And it seems Porsche plug-in hybrid sales are fairly robust, especially in the most enthusiastic U.S. market for plug-in cars.
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California buyers now demand electrified powertrain options, Porsche North America COO Joe Lawrence said in an interview with The Detroit News at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.
So while the move toward plug-in hybrids is necessary to meet stricter emissions standards, Lawrence said the new models are proving popular with consumers as well.
In 2015, Porsche delivered 1,098 Cayenne S E-Hybrid SUVs, 407 Panamera S E-Hybrid sedans, and 203 copies of the 918 Spyder supercar--for a total of 1,708 plug-in hybrids.
2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, 2014 Paris Auto Show
Production of the $845,000 918 Spyder was capped at 918 units, and Porsche reached that total last year.
Lawrence said Porsche's plug-in hybrid sales comprise 0.7 percent of the U.S. hybrid market, whereas the company's overall sales only make up 0.3 percent of the total new-car market.
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Porsche will soon expand into the realm of all-electric cars with a production version of the Mission E sedan concept that appeared at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The concept featured multiple electric motors with a combined output of 600 horsepower, a claimed 310-mile range, and an 800-volt DC fast-charging system that could recharge the battery pack to 80 percent in 15 minutes.
2015 Porsche 918 Spyder
Porsche has said the Mission E will launch by the "end of the decade." It will be interesting to see which features from the concept translate to the production model.
Like the plug-in hybrids, Porsche expects its first electric car to be more than just a way to comply with emissions standards.
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Lawrence was confident that Porsche will be able to make money selling electric cars, pointing to expected "advancements and economies of scale."
Making electric cars profitable will be a "challenge" he said, but "ultimately it can be done."