E-mobility in the 911: are we ready? Drive-My 911 922 Club investigates how an e-911 is likely to be received among enthusiasts, and what we can expect of its performance. Porsche has already raced with hybrid power in the 911, but what’s the general consensus surrounding this inevitable shift in power supply for road cars. Written by Chris Randall.
The 911 and electromobility
911 992 E-Hybrid
As you’ll have seen in recent issues of Drive-My the eighth-generation 992 is here at last, very shortly arriving in showrooms laden with new technological hardware. Included in our initial expose in the magazine, you may have spotted a mention of a development that might reasonably have sent a chill down the spine: electromobility. The soon-to-retire ‘Mister 911 himself, August Achleitner, explained that the new model has indeed been designed to incorporate hybrid solutions, though “not for this generation, but most likely for the second part”. Achleitner’s sentiments were backed up by Matthias Hofstetter, director of Powertrain for the 911, who added: “We’ve made the 911 ready for hybrid.”
For the moment that readiness involves providing space within the bodywork for batteries and equipping the 992 with an eight-speed PDK transmission. That second part is important, as the unit incorporates space within its casing that could handily be filled by an electric motor for mild hybrid capability. Looking further ahead it’s no great leap in enterprise to expect the 911 to eventually adopt full electromobility, although it’s no surprise that Porsche itself refuses to be drawn on the matter.
Yet there is plenty of evidence that this will come in due course, not least with the forthcoming arrival of the fully electric Taycan, not forgetting Porsche - long abiding by the mantra ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ - will also be entering the Formula E electric racing championship by the end of the year. Need further proof? Back in October 2018 in a press release relating to the Taycan, Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman of the executive board and member of the board for finance and IT, said: “We predict that over 50 per cent of Porsche models delivered from 2025 will be electrified.
Furthermore, Porsche has already announced the investment of more than €6 billion in electric mobility by 2022, including around €1 billion for the electrification and hybridisation of existing product ranges. Make no mistake, the picture is well and truly being painted for us.
The fact remains that Porsche will come under the same pressure as other manufacturers to improve the efficiency of its cars. The recently introduced Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) regime for economy and emissions is far more stringent than the outgoing and outdated New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test – as you’ll have discovered on page 12 – and it will only get tougher still in the future. In fact, in general, achieving the stricter standards set for new cars in the years ahead won’t get any easier, so electromobility is going to be the only way forward if enthusiasts like us expect to be able to enjoy the 911 a decade or more hence.
It’s not as if Porsche doesn’t have form here: in issue 167 we outlined how the company has developed the 911 since the very beginning, always looking for ways to improve not just performance, but also efficiency too. A keenness to employ the latest technology has been at the core of that and, to this writer at least, adopting mild hybrid or plug-in powertrains is entirely in keeping with Porsche’s forward-looking ethos. But what’s the consensus in the industry?
As a magazine we believe the idea of hybridisation is now so well accepted that people are unlikely to be shocked by the 911’s impending inevitability. However, it’s reasonable to expect not everyone will feel this way, and a Neunelfer with a battery and electric motor may well be considered sacrilege, on par with using water to cool the engine. And if that development was controversial, well, it will be nothing compared to the 911’s swing towards electromobility.
Our intrigue in the subject took us far away from Drive-My 992 Club Towers to the specialists who buy, sell, restore, repair and maintain our planet’s existing 911 utopia. Are they likely to embrace electromobility, or will it be anathema to them? Paragon Porsche’s Jason Shepherd and RPM Technik’s Greig Daly, both of whom have years of experience when it comes to selling more recent generations of 911, are united in their belief the technological advance represented by electrification will benefit the 911. Both are overwhelmingly positive about the idea, believing Porsche needed to keep up with the times, the introduction of hybrid technology an inevitable consequence of that. As long as such a model reflects Porsche’s traditional engineering integrity then such a development should be considered a good thing. As Jason Shepherd surmises: “I don’t think it will negatively impact the way buyers view the 911, and they certainly won’t be surprised Porsche is taking this step. Today’s enthusiasts are already used to the technology, so are more willing to accept electromobility, and while there might be initial resistance from some quarters it won’t affect the appeal in the longer term. As a purist I have slightly mixed feelings and would prefer to see Porsche take some weight out of the car, but as to whether it will dilute people’s passion for the 911, definitely not.”
So electromobility in the 911 gets a thumbs up from the more modern end of the specialist 911 market, but what about those renowned for their passion for air-cooled models? Paul Stephens of the eponymous Essex-based experts feels that a development such as this will result in a very capable product. “It’s certainly not all doom and older 911, buyers of modern cars probably won’t know any different.”
The feeling so far from our experts is acceptance without reluctance for electromobility being deployed in the 911, but what impact is a hybridised 911 likely to have on the sales of older, classic models? Paragon’s Shepherd feels it’s a bit too early to say, but ponders whether it could push buyers towards considering something older, while Daly thinks it could bring a whole new section of buyers into the Porsche fold: “They might buy a new hybrid 911 and then start looking at an older car to go with it.” Such behaviour isn’t unheard of, many Drive-My users/readers already utilising a 991-generation daily driver alongside an air-cooled or GT ‘toy’ for the weekend.
There’s a chance a hybrid or fully electric model could segregate enthusiasts more than the current air versus water question, but it’s unlikely such a scenario will ever be adopted in the extreme – as Stephens points out, there are always going to be buyers who want the 911 ownership experience and driving pleasure that goes with a classic model, and they will continue to be well-served by specialists. Of course, until any form of hybrid 911 actually arrives on the market it’s impossible to say that enthusiasts would be able to choose between cutting-edge technology or the purity of the earliest air-cooled cars – or, indeed, have both – can only be a good thing.
But we also wanted to seek the view of someone involved with the sale of modern 911s, and for that we turned to Marc Elgar, senior sales consultant at Porsche Centre Portsmouth. Is there excitement from within Porsche Centres for a 911 sourcing some or all of its power from electricity? “We are still waiting to discover exactly what form such a model will take, but it would certainly be a major shift for the 911,” he tells us. “That said, I can see a hybrid model appealing to those who use their car on a daily basis.” Most interestingly though, he also explains that customers are clearly aware of the development and are already approaching the Centre with questions. It’s a minor revelation: rather than expected contempt for electromobility being deployed in Porsche’s greatest icon, it seems some sectors of the public are already looking for it.
Taking what we’ve just learned into account, the future of the 911 doesn’t seem so daunting. There’s no denying electromobility will change the face of the 911 as we know it, but what seems increasingly likely is it will not deter the affection and gloom,” he says. “It’s going to be the future so we have to embrace it, and while it might not be great for those of us that enjoy the noise and feel of an whether it will lead to a surge in the number of people seeking out an older Neunelfer, but it’s not unreasonable to posit the view that such an advance with our favourite sports car would renew enthusiasm for the more traditional approach. And should that prove to be the case it would certainly be fine by us here at Drive-My; we’ve always considered ourselves a broad church, and the fact enthusiasm for the marque that it’s garnered over the last 56 years. And why should we worry? Ultimately, it’s certain that such a model will be sure to showcase Porsche’s famed engineering integrity. A cleaner, more efficient product will protect the 911’s legacy, not kill it – and most comforting is the realisation the public already knows that.
ABOVE The 992 uses an 8-speed PDK gearbox from the Panamera, which has space for an electric motor before the input shaft.
BELOW Enjoy it while it lasts: e-mobility will eventually kill off the visceral noise of a Porsche Sports Exhaust.
RIGHT Porsche’s Panamera and Cayenne models already mix e-mobility with a traditional combustion engine.
911 E-HYBRID WOULD YOU BUY ONE?
Who better to ask the question ‘Would you buy an e-hybrid 911?’ to than our very own ‘Living the Legend’ real-world Porsche 911 owners? Here’s what they thought:
997.2 Turbo owner, Northamptonshire, UK
“Porsche didn’t produce the first turbocharged sports car, but they did produce the most iconic. Porsche didn’t produce the first dual-clutch transmission, but in the GT3 RS they produced the finest. Porsche was not the first to release a hybrid hypercar, but in the 918 Spyder they produced the fastest. So how do I feel about Porsche producing an e-hybrid 911 in the future? Bring it on! It may be beaten to the grid by other capable offerings, but it is bound to be first to see the chequered flag when launched. I have no doubt that it will be a cracker, and will be taking a test drive when the first models arrive.”
993 Carrera owner, Warwickshire, UK
“Be it a hybrid or eventual electric, change with the 911 is inevitable. Porsche is good at one thing – that’s engineering – and every 911 keeps getting better. Different, and better, yet still at its core an enthusiast’s, driver’s car. Would I drive one? You bet I would. The hybrid stepping stone is my biggest concern, and arguably Porsche’s biggest challenge, but a fully battery-powered 911 should be absolutely fantastic. It’ll cause consternation I’m sure, but I’d even drive a converted old 911 – I like the idea of a new battery-powered 911, but then I like the idea of a classic one converted even more.”
996 40th Anniversary owner, Seattle, US
“The prospect of a hybrid 911 intrigues me, and in many ways I feel it is long overdue. Although I love my 2004 996, I am also very concerned about global warming and its impact on our weather, which has massive human and economic costs, and we know that emissions are a very significant cause of this problem. So if Porsche can combine decent sound and performance with much improved emissions and fuel economy, I am all for it. As for a full-electric 911? I just can’t get over the idea that a Porsche would not have any exhaust note, but at some point in the future I may have to accept that also.”