Electrification may be the big ticket and the way forward, but Porsche isn’t abandoning the combustion engine despite the move towards better sustainability. Rather, it’s looking at the development of synthetic fuels, known as eFuels, to make internal combustion engines more eco-friendly as they continue to provide large-scale mobility.
The automaker says it is seeking partners to co-develop these eFuels, which are produced from CO2 and hydrogen using renewable energy. In terms of their basic properties, these are no different from kerosene, diesel or petrol processed from crude oil, but would be more climate-neutral fuels.
The company believes in the approach, and says it is looking to build eFuel pilot plants to show that the entire process chain works and can be industrialised. However, it doesn’t want to do it alone. “Porsche wants to help shape this chain, but at the same time, doesn’t want to define it down to the smallest detail alone,” said Porsche R&D boss Michael Steiner.
The company said what it wants to be involved in their development to ensure they are suitable for high-performance engines and to avoid problems like those encountered with the introduction of E10 petrol. “When E10 came onto the market, the blend had some disadvantages. It must be different this time, it must have advantages,” he stated.
The company believes that electrification alone isn’t enough to push things along at the pace required to reach its goals. “With electricity alone, you can’t move forward fast enough. Electric mobility is an exciting and convincing technology but, taken on its own, it is taking us towards our sustainability targets at a slower pace than we would like,” Steiner explained.
He said that there is still life – and validity – in the combustion engine. While the automaker plans for half of all its vehicles sold to be electric by 2025, the existing fleet of its non-electric vehicles is large, and is likely to remain so for a good while. “Our cars are driven for a very, very long time, and while our hybrid vehicles are powered electrically for short distances, they rely on their combustion engines over longer distances,” he said.
Steiner added that the automaker is not thinking of focusing only on hybrids and electric vehicles, and will continue to offer the combustion engine in its product lineup. “We are convinced that these three drive technologies will survive on the market in the medium term,” he said.
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