The Volkswagen Group has made one of the largest investments in electric-car building, infrastructure, and development for any automaker on the planet. In the next decade, Volkswagen and its subsidiaries including Audi, Porsche, and others, plan on building millions of EVs and will invest billions more into charging infrastructure.
In an Op-Ed published Monday in USA Today, Porsche Cars North America CEO Klaus Zellmer says the future for any automaker will be electrified, but he stopped short of saying that all cars will be electrified. That's a surprising pivot for a Porsche CEO whose future Taycan promises to be one of the most highly anticipated EVs to arrive next year.
"Let’s be clear: We believe EVs will quickly become commonplace in the U.S. new car fleet, not that they will fully displace internal combustion engines," Zellmer wrote. Instead, he says that offering EVs, PHEVs, and ICE will be commonplace and offer consumers the right fit for the right circumstances.
That's not to say that Zellmer sounds bearish about the prospect of performance EVs in his commentary. In fact, the CEO lays down the groundwork for converting enthusiasts from flat-6s— found in the iconic 911 sports car—to EV powertrains in future cars thanks to the immediate response and nearly unlimited power.
"Frankly, EVs are fun to drive," he wrote. "Electric motors provide instant torque for quick acceleration, and the lower center of gravity from battery packs will reinforce the sporty feeling. So don’t be surprised when all of this truly catches on in the near future."
The column contains a nuanced position—that EVs represent a future for performance vehicles, and that internal combustion will live alongside electric performance. It's a pragmatic take, but a surprising one ahead of the Taycan's launch.
Overall, Zellmer lays out a comprehensive argument for Porsche—and Volkswagen's—push into EVs and infrastructure, and he enumerates his logic for demand, adoption, and support of those future vehicles. It's a compelling argument, and worth the read.
To hear the CEO of a major North American sports car maker publicly embrace electrified powertrains is not only encouraging, but perhaps also a harbinger of a larger sea change of attitudes among mainstream automakers—but it's hardly an all-or-nothing "attitude."