How Porsche plans to save the internal combustion engine
Porsche is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2030. And they won’t kill the internal combustion engine to do so.
Before you get too excited, Porsche predicts that electric vehicles will play a major, if not a majority, role in achieving their goal of net zero emissions.
Porsche estimates that 50% of its vehicles sold will be fully electric by 2025, and they expect that number to rise to 80% by 2030.
With electric vehicles undeniably becoming the backbone of the brand’s quest for net zero emissions, Porsche is also introducing a number of innovations to make electric cars more sustainable.
First, and this can only be seen as mud in Tesla’s eyes, Porsche is setting up a global high voltage (HV) battery repair network, which will train Porsche technicians in the maintenance and repair of HV batteries. This means that a faulty HV battery pack will no longer need to be replaced entirely. Electric vehicles can be served just like ICE vehicles (not exactly like them, obviously, but you get the idea).
Porsche has even figured out how they can use existing tools (such as the specialized elevators used to remove and service gearboxes) to service electric vehicle batteries.
The second game in Porsche’s long game is to mitigate the carbon-intensive electric vehicle manufacturing process.
This partly means using recycled materials for new batteries. Porsche claims to have improved its existing recycling processes in order to increase the proportion of raw materials in circulation and to reuse these materials in new batteries.
Porsche also tried to determine the ideal battery size for an electric vehicle. The intention is to balance power, weight, range and charging time, while using the smallest possible batteries to achieve the lowest carbon footprint.
Porsche estimates that for the average consumer / commuter, the sweet spot is a 100 kWh battery with a range of around 500 km.
This is what will happen for 80% of new Porsches sold by 2030.
But if you’re here for the remaining 20%, these vehicles will feature the old sucker-squeeze-bang-blow you know well.
Porsche not only plans to achieve zero emissions as a brand while continuing to offer ICE vehicles, but also wants to tackle the problem of the massive number of ICE cars that will still be on the road until 2030.
Their answer is eFuel.
“Decarbonization can only be achieved by replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources,” said Jan Simon Ohmstedt, eFuels project manager at Porsche.
Ohmstedt added that Porsche sees “eFuel as a complement to e-mobility” and mentioned that this would be how Porsche would “decarbonize the new 911”, suggesting that the 911 will continue to be available in variants. ICE (please let it be).
ICE vehicles powered by eFuel will not have zero tailpipe emissions. However, the genius of eFuel is that it uses CO2 in its production – and it theoretically takes more CO2 to make eFuel than its combustion produces.
“We urgently need a solution to operate existing vehicle fleets in a sustainable manner,” explains Michael Steiner, member of the board of directors responsible for research and development at Porsche AG. “This goal can be achieved with green fuels, which are a wise addition to electric vehicles.”
The trick then is to make sure that the eFuel manufacturing process is as sustainable as possible.
Porsche’s solution is to look outside of densely populated areas that require large stocks of renewable energy to power electric recharging and even entire power grids. This means looking outside of Europe and towards their eFuel pilot plant in Chile.
“A wind turbine located next to the pilot plant in Chile operates at full load an average of 270 days a year,” says Porsche’s official statement. “The same equipment in Germany would only do this for around 80 days a year, due to the geographic and weather conditions in the country. This means that the 74% utilization rate of the Chilean wind power plant for full load hours is three and a half times higher than what could be achieved in Germany, where the utilization rate is 22% for all. onshore wind turbines.
Porsche estimates that by 2022 the pilot plant will have produced around 130,000 liters of eFuels. Porsche has pledged to purchase all of that volume – and says it will initially use the fuel primarily in its motorsports, particularly the 2022 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. The 2021 season has been marked by the use of biofuel. d’Esso, which had started to be tested in 2019.
Porsche predicts that eFuel will be backward compatible with older ICE vehicles, when “mixed with current market fuel standards” and predicts a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of up to 85%.