Quick trivia question: what automaker was the first to build a hybrid? Did you guess Honda or Toyota? Interestingly, a full 109 years ago, Professor Ferdinand Porsche built a fully functional hybrid automobile, though it was certainly a much different animal compared to the Prius and Insight hatchbacks of 2010. In any case, Porsche is looking to enter the hybrid and electric automobile market in a big way just as soon as battery technology will allow it.
Porsche's opening salvo in the eco-wars will be the full hybrid Cayenne and Panamera models, probably in late 2010 as 2011 models, but there's more to come. Speaking at a press conference at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Michael Macht, Porsche's recently-appointed president and CEO, says:
Recent spy photos indicate that Porsche may already be well into the development phase of its electric 911 program, so this news doesn't exactly come as a shock. Still, while Porsche is just talking about eco-friendly sportscars in press releases at Frankfurt, rivals Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are busy showing off their own factory concepts. Click past the break for the official press release.I am also convinced that one day Porsche will have an electric sports car in its line-up... We are therefore taking the first step in this direction with a full hybrid – in the Cayenne, the Panamera and maybe in the not too distant future also in a racing car or a production 911. Why not?
Porsche Says It Is Working on Alternative Powered Sports Car
New CEO unveils four new high-powered 911s and hints at future hybrid and electric vehicles at Frankfurt Auto Show
ATLANTA, September 15, 2009 - Speaking publicly for the first time at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Porsche's new president and CEO, Michael Macht, revealed that Porsche is considering and working hard on an electric-powered sports car that would meet the high demands of the Porsche brand.
"I am also convinced that one day Porsche will have an electric sports car in its line-up," said Macht at the company's press conference today. While he cautioned that so far the available battery technology is not "sufficient to meet Porsche's strict requirements," he said "our engineers are already working hard on this challenge."
"An electric sports car would therefore only make sense for Porsche if it offers performance and a cruising range similar to that of current sports cars in the market," he said. "We are therefore taking the first step in this direction with a full hybrid – in the Cayenne, the Panamera and maybe in the not too distant future also in a racing car or a production 911. Why not?"
Macht pointed out that Porsche has a long legacy with hybrid technology as it was exactly 109 years ago that Professor Ferdinand Porsche built the first fully functioning car with hybrid technology.
Speaking about Porsche's newest model, Macht said the new Panamera Gran Turismo is already generating thousands of orders just three days after its market launch in Europe.
The highly anticipated Panamera represents Porsche's fourth model line and is the brand's first-ever four-door sports car. It goes on sale in the U.S. on October 17, 2009.
"Although the car has only been at the dealership for three days, we already have 4,500 orders for the Panamera, most of them from customers who have not even seen the car yet," he said Macht. "And since test drives for customers have only just started, sales of the Panamera are already making a very positive start."
Another highlight of the press conference at Frankfurt was Porsche's presentation of its new 2010 911 Turbo, the flagship of the venerable 911 range.
"The 911 Turbo is the spearhead in innovation throughout Porsche's complete range of sports cars. It has been successful in the market for 35 years, accounting throughout this period for almost 80,000 units sold worldwide," said Macht.
Premiering alongside the venerable Turbo will be a series of asphalt-burning 911s, including the 911 GT3 RS, and its race ready sibling the 911 GT3 Cup car.
Porsche also took the wraps off its limited-edition 911 Sport Classic at the Frankfurt show, marking a return to the tradition of occasionally issuing ultra-exclusive production cars. The Sport Classic will not be offered in the U.S. Production will be strictly limited to 250 units.
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Note: Photos of the new 911s and Panamera are available to accredited journalists on the Porsche Press Database at press.porsche.com - Footage is available to registered users at http://thenewsmarket.com/porsche.
About Porsche Cars North America, Inc.
Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), based in Atlanta, Ga., is the exclusive importer of Porsche sports cars and sport utility vehicles for the United States. It is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Dr. Ing.h.c. F. Porsche AG. PCNA employs approximately 180 people who provide Porsche vehicles, parts, service, marketing and training for its 202 dealers. The dealers, in turn, provide Porsche owners with best-in-class service. Throughout its 60-year history, Porsche has developed numerous technologies that have advanced vehicle performance, improved safety and spurred environmental innovations within the automotive industry. The company continues to celebrate its heritage by adding to its long list of motorsports victories dating back to its first 24 Hours of Le Mans class win in 1951. Today, with more than 28,000 victories, Porsche is recognized as the world's most successful brand in sports car racing. PCNA, which imports the iconic 911 series, the Boxster and Cayman sports cars, Cayenne sport utility vehicles for the U.S. and soon the four-passenger Panamera, strives to maintain a standard of excellence, commitment and distinction synonymous with its brand.