Porsche bullish on plug-in hybrids

Porsche bullish on plug-in hybrids

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Porsche Panamera

Bernhard Maier, Porsche’s global sales and marketing boss, commutes daily to company headquarters near Stuttgart using a Porsche Cayenne plug-in hybrid or a Panamera with a low-carbon dioxide powertrain.

Regardless of Maier’s vehicle, his goal is the same: Make the 56-mile round trip emissions free. That’s a big mindset shift for the sports car maker. Maier, 55, shared his views on the future of plug-in hybrids at Porsche with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri.

You use a Porsche plug-in hybrid for your daily commute. How do you get additional full-electric kilometers out of the battery?

The Panamera and Cayenne are homologated in the [New European Driving Cycle] for 35km [21.8 miles] in pure battery mode, but by coasting into the traffic and recuperating energy during braking you can drive emissions free a bit further. Depending on the traffic and the route I take, I drive 40km [24.9 miles] to 45km [28] per trip. Most of the times I manage to use only electric power.

Are you a true believer in plug-in hybrids?

Absolutely. People are beginning to understand that with a plug-in hybrid they have the ability to be totally flexible [in terms of range and performance] while having their own filling station for electricity at home or at the office, which is really convenient.

How are customers reacting to Porsche’s plug-ins?

On the Panamera, we are already at 10 percent of global demand, while the Cayenne was just introduced. In general, we see more potential in markets where authorities or governments subsidize models that reduce pollution, because having the best of two worlds inside one car is a little bit more expensive. When a government wants to convince inhabitants that reducing pollution is a really important issue, and offers adequate incentives, electrified vehicles could grow to market shares up to 50 percent.

When will there be a 911 plug-in hybrid?

We have a lot of ideas, but we have not approved them for production yet. The 918 Spyder shows that Porsche has the capability to produce very convincing hybrid sports cars.

Porsche is near a sales balance of one-third of its volume in Europe, North America and Asia. What will the model split be in the three regions?

In mature markets we have a higher share of two-door sports cars in comparison to those countries that we call fast-growing markets. This is normal. In markets where individual mobility is still at a very low level, you need a car that can fit to a lot of different circumstances.

This is why the Cayenne and Panamera are the favorite choices in China. In fast-growing markets the sports car segment has not reached the share it has in Germany or the United States, but it is picking up quickly. What is important for Porsche is to have a dominant position in the sports car segment everywhere. This segment in China is still small in absolute terms, but we have a share slightly higher than 50 percent, so we are in good shape.

When does a market mature enough to make sports cars a more viable purchase?

In broader terms, when affluent buyers have met their requirements for a four-door sedan and an SUV. If they still have the space and the money for a third car, then they get a sports car.

Porsche closed 2014 with a sales record. What does the company expect this year?

Further growth in line with what is defined in the Strategy 2018 plan.

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