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A lot of what we write about here at ABG involves the amount of energy that cars consume while operating and how much they emit. However a big part of the total energy consumed during a cars lifetime comes during the manufacturing process and, to a lesser degree, during end of life. Obviously from a vehicle operating efficiency standpoint, Porsche ranks near the bottom of the barrel. In the past year they have even implied that they might pull out Europe if new CO2 emissions limits were enacted. But if you consider the energy that it takes to build cars spread over the life of the car, the picture changes a bit.

Apparently some sixty percent of all the Porsches ever built over the past sixty years are still in use. If you peruse any listings of sports cars for sale you will find plenty of Porsches from the '50s, '60s and '70s available. While this may well be true for classic 356s and 911s, in the future the picture may well change as it seems unlikely that enthusiasts will have much demand for 30-40 year old Cayennes. For the moment, at least, chalk one up for Porsche.

[Source: Noisy Decent Graphics, via Winding Road]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      One more thing and then I'll shut up :)

      I remember reading (and I wish I could dig out a reference for this) that only 1% of matter that passes through the US economy doesn't end up on a landfill within 6 months. 1%! The figures are very similar in most other developed nations. That is a hugely wasteful way to go about our lives!
      • 7 Years Ago
      If the average Porsche driver drove 12K-15K miles per year then yes I would agree that Porsche may be more sustainable. However considering most Porsche's are simply a second (or third, forth etc..) car, they are simply built for pleasure. A car built to drive for pleasure and gets terrible MPG is not ECO friendly at all regardless of how many miles you drive.
      • 7 Years Ago
      sus·tain (sə-stān') tr.v.

      To keep in existence; maintain.

      One of the reasons why Porsche is so "sustainable" is that, unlike GM and Ford, who are tripping all over themselves to meet government fuel economy standards, Porsche simply ignores the mandates and builds cars that customers actually want to buy. We'll see who's around in 20 years.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Anyone have a link to a paper with some real numbers?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well .. if porsches are driven less than average cars (like they are), wouldn't that make MPG of their cars matter less? I mean, porsche driven less than 2000 miles a year will pollute less than a prius driven 20000.

      MPG doesn't really matter - total amount of CO2 does (construction + use).
      • 7 Years Ago
      IIRC, Porsche was involved in a program some years ago that looked at extending the reasonable lifetime of a car to 20+ years. It would appear they learned some things from that effort.

      As one who's done specific research on old Porsche models, it's interesting to note that Porsche began galvanizing the *entire* body structure of the 911 in about 1977.
      • 7 Years Ago
      You are aware that Porsche pretty well owns Volkswagen? Which, in turn has Audi, Skoda, and Seat as well as it's own brand.

      Generally, very few of the cars of the caliber of a Porsche are driven as a daily driver. Yes, they are toys. But, comparing apples to apples you'll still have a much lower CO2 emissions amount total with a 15,000 mile 20 year old Porsche vs a 300,000 mile 13 year old Saturn (specifically my dad's Saturn, which my mom bought in '97 used, and still runs with around 400 lbs of tools in the back that he needs for work.)

      Not to mention, while Porsche has ignored fuel economy mandates, a car still cannot be sold in the U.S. without meeting current emissions standards. While it's a toy, it is still classified as a passenger vehicle (unlike the Hummer or Expedition, which were classed as 3/4 or 1 ton work vehicles due to their immense weight). Which means that a 2008 Porsche must meet the same emission standard as a 2008 Prius.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hang on.

      Cars typically have emobided energies (manufacture & disposal) of anywhere between 10% - 30% of total lifecycle energy. So the lion's share of energy is in operation for any car.

      Now take a Porsche which has much higher fuel consumption than conventional cars so, naturally, the embodied energy is likely to form a lower proportion of the total.

      But the total lifecycle energy is going to be MUCH higher than a conventional car for a given lifetime. Keeping gas guzzlers running for a long time is not sustainable by any stretch of the imagination. All you're doing is ensuring that the embodied energy comprises a smaller and smaller chunk of an enormous lifecycle energy total.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The point being made in the original article is very valid - extending lifetimes is very desirable in products but it should be applied to products that have as low in-use energy consumption as is humanly possible. Extend the lifetime of the Priuses and the Polo Bluemotions, the low energy TVs and computers. Don't extend the lifecycle of the Hummers.

      Driving down total lifecycle emissions is what we're after.