EconomyFinancialIs Porsche saying goodbye to powerful gasoline engines?

Is Porsche saying goodbye to powerful gasoline engines?

The market’s appetite for the Taycan is moving almost as fast as its speedometer. Global sales of this electric sedan, capable of going from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in less than three seconds, began at the end of 2019 and have already surpassed those of the brand’s iconic 911 model.

Porsche delivered 38,464 911 models in 2021, a record number for the supercar, but not enough to compete with the 41,296 Taycans sold around the world in the past year.

Mexico is no stranger to the furor caused by the first electric Porsche. The Taycan, whose price is around 3.4 million pesos, was positioned as Good technical performance of its powertrain, charging speed, which allows recovering 80% of the battery in a level 3 station (the fastest) in about 25 minutes, and the immediate torque it delivers as soon as the accelerator is stepped on, have made it a desired model within the lucrative niche in which it moves.

“Taycan represents around 10% of our total sales. It is undoubtedly a very good result in a country where there are still significant gaps in recharging infrastructure”, said Camilo San Martín, General Director of Porsche in Mexico.

Given the market success of the Taycan and the demand for zero emission vehicles in Europe – where 40% of its total revenue came from electric and plug-in hybrid sales – the United States and China, Porsche is allocating several million dollars to move toward electric powertrains.

The company anticipates that by the middle of this decade half of the entire product range will be sold as fully electric or plug-in hybrid models. In mid-2021, Porsche introduced an all-wheel drive hatchback version of the Taycan, while the arrival of an electric variant of the Macan – Porsche’s best-selling model in the world – is expected in 2023. The 718 Boxster and the 718 Cayman receive electric propulsion systems.

If the introduction of the next Macan EV is as successful as the Taycan, analysts – including Gerardo Gómez, director of JD Power in Mexico – forecast that Porsche’s electric car sales will skyrocket even more. “But achieving the migration of a super sports brand to the electric field is not easy,” warns the analyst.

One of the challenges faced by the manufacturers of this type of model is to compensate for the weight of electric batteries, which hinder the performance of a vehicle when handling tight curves at high speed, as well as the impact of constant acceleration on the autonomy of the vehicle. battery. Porsche says that the aerodynamic design of its Taycan vehicle allows it to maintain good sporty handling, while its battery, one of the largest on the market, allows accelerations of over 200 km/h without losing significant charge.

The model has been well received by early adopters , but this does not guarantee an immediate migration of more traditional buyers. “To get those who still love the smell of gasoline and the roar of a combustion engine to want an electric model, you need the car to hit you. How it sounds, how it gives you feedback from the road. All of these things are important,” Gomez says.

Porsche is aware of this. Perhaps that is why it began its electrification strategy with the creation of a completely new model –instead of putting a battery pack on an existing model–. Perhaps for this reason it has also decided to leave the 911, its most iconic model, with which it has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and with which it has conquered thousands of sports fans, out of total electrification – at least for the moment. motor.

The B side of electrification

Porsche has said it expects a significant portion – up to 80% – of its vehicle sales by 2030 to come from electrified models. But “electrified” can mean a fully electric vehicle like the Porsche Taycan, but also hybrids and plug-in hybrids (or plug-in hybrids) that combine electrification with internal combustion engines, which Porsche currently also offers.

Although the German brand already has a well-marked path towards electrification, it is not quite ready to give up combustion engines, so it will maintain at least three combustion engines during this decade. “We are on the path to battery electric, but at the same time we continue to develop amazing internal combustion engine vehicles. In between, we have really impressive plug-in hybrids,” says San Martín.

Porsche has said the 911 will be “the last Porsche to go full electrification,” if it ever becomes fully EV. The company forecasts that the majority of that 20% of sales generated by non-electrified models in 2030 will correspond to the 911.

“911 is our icon. We will continue to build the 911 with a combustion engine,” says San Martín. This decision has not only a nostalgic background, but also a technical one. So far, the 911 concept doesn’t allow for a fully electric variant: having the engine at the rear allows you to put more power to the ground and accelerate faster, but putting the weight of the battery in the rear is unfeasible. All that weight would simply not allow the car to drive.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be some sort of electrification on the model. The company is already working on a “very sporty hybridization” of the 911 that can be powered by synthetic fuels free of CO2 emissions.

Porsche last year invested $24 million in synthetic fuels (which it calls e-fuels ), which are carbon-neutral and can act like gasoline, allowing current and vintage vehicle owners a new way to drive. more environmentally friendly. “If we want to operate the existing fleet sustainably, e-fuels (synthetic fuels) are a fundamental component,” said Michael Steiner, a member of Porsche’s executive board for research and development, in a virtual conference with Mexican media in September. of 2021.

Synthetic fuels, made from hydrogen and produced with renewable energy, will burn just like gasoline made from crude oil, but produced without impacting the environment. One of their great benefits is that they can be used by a standard vehicle that runs on gasoline, without the need to make any adjustments to the engine.

Porsche is the first high-performance brand willing to do without an internal combustion engine in its vehicles. To achieve this, it has had to design a strategy that allows it to guarantee the same level of profitability as in the past. Porsche CEO Oliver Blume is very clear: “We have to make the same level of money from electric products as we do from our combustion engine models. That is essential”.

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