Porsche Goes Hybrid

By dancurranjr On March 10th, 2009

porsche-cayenne-hybridPorsches are known for the sound of their rippling horsepower under the hood, but the company’s new gas-saving hybrid actually runs on batteries more than half the time – leaving the driver with little more than the sound of the wheels on the road.

Using a parallel full hybrid design developed with Volkswagen and Audi engineers, the prototype Cayenne S Hybrid relies on a combination of internal combustion and electric power to reduce C02 emissions and boost mileage from 14 mpg in the city to 24 mpg.

That’s still only half what the Toyota Prius hybrid gets, but then again, it’s an SUV. The company wants to improve mileage further by the time the Cayenne S Hybrid hits the market in 2010.

While many other hybrids deliver their benefits primarily in city traffic, the Cayenne S Hybrid allows drivers to cruise at up to 86 mph on the highway using electric power alone. If that’s a little slow for you, put the pedal down, the combustion engine comes alive again, and off you go.

That’s key for the designers of the new Cayenne. While it’s not the first hybrid – or even the first hybrid SUV – coming to the market, it’s the first Porsche hybrid and the company has been very careful to retain the performance that its customers expect.

Porsche touts it as delivering the “power of a V8 and the efficiency of a four-cylinder”.

“The Cayenne Hybrid is a special driving experience,” said Michael Leiters, project manager of the Cayenne product line, after a recent test drive in and around Porsche’s hometown of Stuttgart.

“It can be completely electric or use the engine at the same time to improve acceleration – there is also what we call ‘sailing’, or coasting with the engine off at speeds up to 86 mph, when the driver can only hear the wind.”

It’s not an idle boast: On a recent test drive for reporters, one passenger remarked on the hum of the electric motor as the Cayenne whizzed down the road, but the noise turned out to be coming from the radio, which wasn’t properly turned in to a station. After it was shut off – silence.

So far, fuel consumption is not as good as the more conventional diesel version of the Cayenne, making its debut at this week’s Geneva Auto Show. But Porsche is working on the hybrid primarily for the US market, where diesels are not as popular, said Klaus-Gerhard Wolpert, director of the Cayenne Product Line for Porsche.

SOURCE: The Press Association

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