Porsche Panamera S-E Hybrid

Porsche Won’t Plug in to Electric Cars Any Time Soon, But Plug-in Hybrids OK, Says Tech Boss

Just because two people are related doesn’t mean they’ll have the same political, social or religious views. They may even have different tastes when it comes to fashion, food, and art.

Now we know that rule applies to automakers too, with the announcement from Thomas Becki, Porsche’s director of product and technical press, that the high-end automaker won’t be producing a production all-electric model any time soon.

While Porsche is happy producing plug-in hybrids, it won't be making an all-electric model just yet.

While Porsche is happy producing plug-in hybrids, it won’t be making an all-electric model just yet.

Porsche is of course part of the Volkswagen group, a company which has recently pulled out all the metaphorical stops to introduce multiple all-electric and plug-in hybrid models to market under its Volkswagen and Audi brands.

Becki made the statement in an interview with Australian-based CarAdvice.au during the launch of the Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS in Spain in which he doubted electric vehicle and battery technology as being advanced enough for it to develop a car that would meet the needs of its demanding customer base.

“Of course Porsche is looking at pure electric vehicles,” he said. “We’ve already done a pure electric Boxter a couple of years ago but that was a research vehicle. We don’t see that the current technology is where it needs to be to provide the typical Porsche feel and driver dynamic, as well as sufficient range in an all-electric setup.”

Currently, Porsche produces two plug-in hybrid models, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid and Panamera S E-Hybrid. Offered as greener, high-performance options for customers of either SUV, both cars offer limited all-electric range of around 20 miles per charge and the capability to drive at speeds of up to 85 miles per hour without using the gasoline engine.

Porsche uses the autobahn as its excuse for not building an electric model yet.

Porsche uses the autobahn as its excuse for not building an electric model yet.

Pushed hard however, and both cars will engage their massive 3.0-litre supercharged V-6 engines to provide motive power, accelerating all the way up to the kind of speeds only legally allowed on German autobahns. While they may be super-efficient at lower speeds — at least relative to other plug-in vehicles of a similar class — there’s no way of getting around the matter of the vast amount of energy expended in moving at speeds in excess of 80 mph. Gasoline or electric, any vehicle is simply inefficient at that speed.

Even a Tesla Model S P85D with an 85 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack will travel a fraction of its rated range at its top speed of 155 mph.

And it’s that argument, or rather the one which says that batteries aren’t energy dense enough to provide several hundreds of miles of range at speeds in excess of 150 mph that Porsche says is the reason it isn’t developing an electric car any time soon.

Porsche’s customers, says Becki, are used to driving at Autobahn speeds. Asking them to do less in order maximise range isn’t possible.

“Whilst we admire Tesla’s Model S sedan (we’ve even bought one to study) if we were to drive it at the permissible high speeds in Germany (like so many Porsche owners do), say from Munich to Frankfurt, the advertised range of around 430 kilometres would likely be severely reduced and potentially not enough charge would be available for the round trip commute,” he said. “I think it’s going to be at least five years before EV technology is where it needs to be, at least for Porsche.”

Naturally, we’d disagree: we’ve driven a Tesla Model S on the autobahn at speeds in excess of 125 mph. And while range certainly suffered, we’d argue that driving any faster for any length of time just is the kind of thing only a minority of customers will feel happy doing — especially in an expensive sports car on a busy road.

While range certainly suffers at 125+ mph (We've tried) the Tesla Model S handles Autobahns just fine.

While range certainly suffers at 125+ mph (We’ve tried) the Tesla Model S handles Autobahns just fine.

Instead, Porsche will continue on expanding its plug-in hybrid lineup across the brand.

“Our board members have repeatedly said that we can use the same hybrid technology for the 911, but it’s so expensive, so it’s not going to happen next week or even for the current model facelift,” he continued. “For next generation, though, I would say a 911 plug-in hybrid looks feasible.”

While the sound of a Plug-in hybrid variant of the venerable Porsche 911 sounds like it could, perhaps encourage hardened petrolheads to make the switch to a plug-in vehicle, we’ve got to admit to being a little disappointed with this particular stance from Porsche, especially given the recent developments form the Volkswagen group when it comes to plug-in vehicles.

For a start, there was the announcement earlier this year from sister company Audi that the R8 e-tron electric sports car would enter production later this year, offering fans of Audi’s flagship coupe a super-sexy, all-electric option instead of a high gas-mileage V10 or V-8 engine.

Then there’s the work being funded by the Volkswagen group into solid state battery technology, which VW boss Martin Winterkorm has said the Volkswagen Group may decide to use in its next-generation plug-in vehicles to produce ranges in excess of 400 miles per charge. If it does so, Volkswagen could even leapfrog Tesla as the automaker with the longest-range electric car on the market.

Are you disappointed that Porsche is still reluctant to develop an all-electric model? Would you buy one if it were available? And do you think it’s time automakers stop using just over 8,000 miles of Autobahn as an excuse for not making a greener vehicle?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • CDspeed

    I’m dissapointed, electric cars are actually part of Porsche’s heritage, you think that would be reason enough to develop an electric car. And if they’d like to make an electric car that lives up to the brands standards, why would you not build a test car so you won’t just be getting started five years from now? Since when is waiting things out a good strategy for future development? As pointed out the R8 is ready to go electric, and Audi is supposed to show an all electric SUV this year too. Not to mention Tesla who will also debut the Model X, and has been selling a much better sedan for a few years now.

  • PWJ Bishop

    I think there are two issues here, common to all the German and most other trad automakers.nnnFirstly, they are only going to lower the fuel consumption of their cars at the rate required by legislation – no faster. This seems to me to be the reason why many cars are appearing with such small batteries that wealthy owners are unlikely to be bothered to plug them in. These cars, however, perform extraordinarily well during the official fuel consumption tests (which assume a fully charged battery prior to each trip).nnnSecondly, the series hybrid in inherently inefficient, but the system is relatively simple to add to existing ICE cars. For as long as possible, therefore, trad automakers will include the minimum electrification they can get away with, without enthusiasm but simultaneously extolling as many reasons as they can think of to make their behaviour appear responsible.

    • D. Harrower

      Yep, most PHEVs are nothing more than a way for OEMs to take advantage of EV programs (tax rebates, congestion charge exemptions, etc) and use them as a sales tool. They could care less about people actually driving electric.

  • Erneuigkeiten

    A small firm in Austria called Kreisel Electric just did an electric Porsche Panamera 4S with at least 450 km range and speed up to 300 km/h. 4 wheel drive with a 7 speed automatic transmission. 90 kWh battery with no loss of space. Take that, Porsche. They also did a VW Caddy with 350 km range

  • Oil4AsphaltOnly

    Beckl might want to check in with his bosses: http://www.autonews.com/article/20150313/OEM04/303149999/porsche-may-add-electric-car-to-challenge-teslannngranted 2020 isn’t the near future, but it’s close enough that they have to start developing it now, rather than wait on batteries.

    • vdiv

      Porsche is rumored to be cooking an all-electric 717 Model S competitor:nhttp://www.carmagazine.co.uk/spy-shots/porsche/porsche-717-revealed-2019s-battery-powered-tesla-rival/nnOf course any and all proclamations about vehicle electrification from the VAG should always be taken with a giant boulder of salt, or a bucket of electrolyte (dissolved salt). Cheers! 🙂

  • If I was porche I would stay away from electric cars too. It’s sad that the traditional automakers aren’t really trying that hard to make great electric vehicles especially after Tesla paved the way.

  • D. Harrower

    “Even a Tesla Model S P85D with an 85 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery npack will travel a fraction of its rated range at its top speed of 155 nmph”.nnShow me any ICE (much less a Porsche) that does not see a significant reduction is efficiency when driven at top speed for extended periods.nnTheir Munich to Frankfurt example is spurious. They neglect to mention that there are several Tesla Superchargers along this route, so even if you manage to significantly reduce the range of Model S by driving aggressively, a short break will see you juiced up and back on your way.nnI know that if I had to commute this route, I would gladly trade a 20 to 30 minute stop with free refueling than spend 150 to 200 Euros per day on petrol just to save a few minutes.

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