It is widely believed by many that electricity is the future propulsion of the car, the replacement for petrol and diesel. As a result, electric cars are flooding the world’s streets.
Not everyone thinks so. A small, but growing group of companies believe there are alternatives to going electric, ways to keep the sensation of driving a petrol car without the environmental cost.
One of those companies is Secto Automotive from Finland. In recent years they have developed a 100 percent CO2-neutral fuel, an e-fuel.
An e-fuel is a type of fuel which is produced with electricity using renewable resources. It is a sustainable alternative to petrol or diesel.
Earlier this week, I drove a 473bhp Porsche 911 Safari powered by Secto’s e-fuel from Jyvaskyla to the country’s capital, Helsinki. This is what I learnt.
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You can’t tell the difference between the e-fuel and petrol
Unless you’re very intimate and have driven the car regularly, there is no obvious difference between a car powered by e-fuel and one powered by petrol.
On the motorway and in town, the 911 accelerated and behaved as well as one would expect a car with this much power.
If all cars go electric, motorists will miss the noise
Just a few days before driving the Porsche to Jyvaskyla I’d driven a Mercedes EQE in the other direction. Whilst the Mercedes wafted me comfortably north, I couldn’t help but enjoy the experience of driving the 911 south.
A large part of my enjoyment came not just from the car’s interior and acceleration, but from the sound of the twin-turbo flat-six just a few feet behind me. The experience was akin to being in an orchestra.
In the Mercedes, the electric motors and soft ride deliver you to your destination, you feel like the conductor; you focus, relax, and direct the car.
In the Porsche you’re not just the conductor, you’re the lead trumpeter. The whole car buzzes as you progress; the engine is a constant soundtrack, a crescendo waiting to build, a dog waiting on a leash, eager to go.
One of the benefits of e-fuels, if they go mainstream, is that car enthusiasts can keep their old and beautiful cars going without worrying about their emissions or converting them to electric. Drivers will be able to enjoy the sound without harming the environment.
The main problem with e-fuels is that they aren’t widely available, they are in their infancy and not available at every petrol station.
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The lack of availability shouldn’t be a barrier to their development in the same way it wasn’t for the electric car.
When the recent electric renaissance began, electric cars were few and far between and so were charging stations.
In 2023, whilst there are some gaps in the network and uncertainties over their practicality, electric cars have been welcomed into the automotive environment.
If the same can happen for electric cars, it can happen for e-fuels too.
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