With the automotive world rapidly heading towards electrification and governments banning the sale of internal combustion engine cars in the coming decades, it would seem that the days of traditional cars are numbered. However, a few automakers, including Porsche, Audi and Mazda, have been investing in synthetic fuels that could be just as clean as electric vehicles.
In a recent interview with Evo magazine, Porsche VP of Motorsport and GT cars, Dr. Frank Walliser, says that synthetic fuels, also called eFuels, can reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of existing ICE cars by as much as 85 percent. And, he says, when you account for the wheel-to-well impact of manufacturing the EV, it's a wash.
Synthetic fuels are made by extracting hydrogen via renewable energy, and capturing it liquid form with carbon dioxide. Compared to pump fuel, eFuels emit fewer particulates and nitrogen oxide as well. That's because, as Walliser explains, they are composed of eight to 10 ingredients while the dead plants we mine contain 30 to 40, many of which are simply burned and emitted as pollution in the process.
While Porsche is continuing to develop EVs like the Taycan, it says that ICEs will continue to exist in the market for many years to come. Synthetic fuels, along with electrified cars, would be part of a multi-pronged approach to reducing emissions as quickly as possible. Mazda gave a similar statement a couple weeks earlier when it became the first car company to join Europe's eFuel Alliance.
Though they didn't explicitly say so, it would seem that carmakers like Porsche and Mazda have a vested interest in keeping their iconic models on the road as well. Synthetic fuels would allow owners to continue driving them without any modification to the existing engines.
According to Evo, Porsche plans, at least initially, to only use synthetic fuels in motorsports applications and at its Porsche Experience Centers. Porsche will have 130,000 liters (approx. 34,000 gallons) available by 2022 and will conduct its first trials then.