For the carbon-conscious hybrid crowd those fuel economy numbers are pathetic, and mentioning 0 to 60 mph times and triple digit speeds is sacrilege. But to Porsche and their customers, the combination of performance, speed and increased fuel economy is just as important as fuel mileage alone is to Toyota Prius buyers.
It’s difficult being an auto manufacture today, and even more so for companies like Porsche who have to meet rising efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions regulations throughout the world, yet they don’t manufacture vehicles that play in the more fuel-efficient categories of the market. Consider: The European Union has established a target of reducing Porsche’s CO2 emissions to 216 grams per kilometer by 2015 from 255g/km now. The company believes hybrids will help the company meet the goal.
The Cayenne S Hybrid is a good first step in the right direction toward meeting a variety of different fuel efficiency and emissions mandates. Kudos to the Porsche engineers that figured out how to get 21-mpg city/25 highway from a 5,000 pound vehicle powered by a 333 horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine.
Sure, the hybrid system that includes a 34-kWh electric motor and a 288-volt nickel metal-hydride battery pack plays a major role in the increased fuel economy, but that isn’t the whole story. Porsche, like most auto companies are placing their vehicles on diets.
Weight of the Cayenne Hybrid was reduced about 400 pounds by using a lighter all-wheel-drive system rather than a 4×4 drivetrain. In addition, Porsche designers replaced heavier steel elements with more aluminum in the vehicle body. The weight trimming still leaves the hybrid nearly 500 pounds heavier than the gas-powered Cayenne V6, but it points to the industry’s trend toward using advanced materials and forgoing features to reduce weight across all segments of vehicles.
These measures are cost-effective strategies for improving fuel efficiency—even if it doesn’t result in immediate cost savings for Porsche consumers. The Cayenne S Hybrid is about $20,000 more than the gas-powered V6 Cayenne; $4,000 more than the gasoline Cayenne S all-wheel drive.
Is Porsche serious about hybrids or is the Cayenne just a green flag hoisted to improve their image? The automaker answered that question two weeks ago when development chief, Wolfgang Duerheimer, said, “In the future, we will have hybrid drive in every model line.” Electrification of vehicles for Porsche is not an option; it’s the road to continued production of fast, fun cars for the street and racetrack.