Porsche has announced that it wants to “drive forward the development of synthetic fuels [e-fuels]” and is seeking partners to build pilot factories to prove e-fuels’ viability.
Although Porsche is investing in electrification, as evidenced by the introduction of the Taycan EV earlier this year, it believes the technology is not reducing its carbon footprint quickly enough.
Porsche’s R&D boss, Michael Steiner, said: “Electric mobility is an exciting and convincing technology but, taken on its own, it is taking us towards our sustainability targets at a slower pace than we would like. That’s why we are also committing to e-fuels – and not ignoring possible applications in motorsports, either.”
Another reason Porsche is investing in e-fuels, he said, is because they are a “fundamental component” of improving the sustainability of existing fleets. A further advantage is that, unlike electrification, they do not require significant mechanical changes to existing cars.
E-Fuels have long been of interest to the car industry. They function similarly to kerosene, diesel or petrol processed from crude oil but are produced from CO2 and hydrogen using renewable energy.
Porsche’s VW Group sibling brands, Volkswagen and Bentley, are researching the technology, as is McLaren. However, not all firms are as enthusiastic. Mercedes has recently snubbed e-fuels, questioning their viability.
Although Porsche aims for half of its vehicles sold to be electric by 2025, the marque is committed to pure-combustion engines in the medium term. Steiner stressed that Porsche’s existing fleet is large, and although its hybrid vehicles are powered electrically for short drives, they frequently undertake longer trips, which require combustion engines.
Porsche’s focus on synthetic fuels reflects wider trends. Earlier this year, the government announced that it plans to introduce lower-carbon E10 petrol, which is made with 10% ethanol, as standard at UK filling stations in 2021.