Porsche hedging its bets with synthetic fuel development

As the electric vehicle revolution begins to gather momentum, most automakers have pledged their allegiance to battery power. Bold claims (spelling the end of the internal combustion engine) have been made for passenger vehicles inside the next 20 years. However, there are some vehicle manufacturers who are their hedging bets – like Porsche. 

The Stuttgart-based company expects 80% of its line-up to be electrified by 2030. But its key product, the 911, is not in the 80%. The 911’s layout is unconventional, with the engine housed at the rear, which could be said to be less suitable for full electrification – but I don’t really buy that argument. Porsche employs some of the best engineers in the world – most things are possible to such people. The real argument in my mind is that 911 customers don’t want an electric sports car. 

In fact Porsche’s CEO Oliver Blume told BizNews Motoring that there are no plans to launch a fully electric 911.

“The 911 is our icon,” he said. “We will continue to build the 911 with a combustion engine.”

So, where does one go from here? Well the answer is two-fold. First, there will be a hybrid-powered 911 in the not-too-distant future. The second element is that Porsche is investing heavily in its synthetic fuel, which combines captured carbon dioxide with hydrogen which, claims the manufacturer, is carbon neutral. Trials are already underway. 

These hopes are pinned on the Haru One pilot plant in Chile that’s producing Porsche’s synthetic fuel. The plant uses wind-generated electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then combined with atmospheric carbon dioxide to produce methanol, which in turn forms the basis for synthetic fuel. The plant is expected to produce 130,000 litres of fuel in 2022, most of which will be used in the Porsche Supercup race series. The motorsport environment is a great way to accelerate development of new technologies so it’ll quickly become apparent how effective this fuel is.

While the fuel is relatively expensive to produce at the moment, Porsche estimates it’ll be a viable option inside this decade. This isn’t only good news for new cars – the company wants to give classic car owners an option that will keep their cars on the road well into the future.

This kind of commitment to purist motoring deserves a round of applause in my books. 

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