The fascination of "Porsche" is closely linked to the combustion engine. President Oliver Blume wants to lead the company into an electrified future – and keep the tradition alive with synthetic fuels. An interview with Oliver Blume.
How successfully has Porsche's start in the electric age been with the Taycan?
Oliver Blume: The Taycan marks the beginning of an era. No other Porsche has won so many awards within a year. The Taycan proves that there vis an excellent fit between pure electric sports cars and Porsche. The next milestone in our product strategy is the electric Macan, which will also feature an innovative 800-volt technology.
How are customers reacting to the new technologies?
Very positively. We sold more Taycans than the 911 worldwide In the first three quarters of 2021. We have succeeded in combining the tradition of the brand with the future. And we are moving faster than we originally planned with the electrification strategy. We have already sold more than 40% of our electric vehicles in Europe in 2021– around half of them purely electric.
Will this share continue to rise?
We assume that half of our vehicles worldwide will be electrified by 2025 – as a hybrid or as fully electric. Our ambitious goal is to sell more than 80% of our vehicles with an electric motor by 2030. In the transformation phase, we are flexibly positioned with a mix of combustion engines, hybrid drives and purely electric vehicles.
Oliver Blume in the Porsche 911: This classic model is to remain the brand's flagship in the future.
The new electric Taycan Photo: Porsche
So will the sports car classic 911 as we know it die out?
In the end, it will be the customers who will decide. The 911 has been highly popular for decades, however, and I assume that this icon will live on. For example, we are thinking about a very sporty hybridisation. Not a plug-in hybrid, but a technology from motorsport, as we know it from our 919 Hybrid Le Mans racing car.
So when will the hybrid 911 hit the road?
There is no fixed date for this yet. We are currently in the concept phase, but are convinced that this will work very well. It will be a performance-oriented hybrid system with a low, purely electric, range. In addition, there is a high performance in recuperation. As is customary at Porsche, innovations are developed in motorsport. We used the 800-volt technology for the first time in the 919 Hybrid at Le Mans. And we were the first manufacturer to put them on the road in the Taycan. This technology is now becoming the industry standard.
So the electrified or even purely electric drive is more suitable for larger vehicles, but not for a sports car like the 911?
Porsche stands for uncompromising sportiness in every segment: for the combustion engines as well as for the models with electric drive. It’s important that the drive fits the vehicle concept. We have ambitious goals for electrification, and the leaps in development are enormous. Porsche remains a pioneer in the development of highly emotional sports cars.
Is a combustion engine fit for the future at all?
Our focus is clearly on electro-mobility. At the same time, we are investing in synthetic fuels. They complement our electro-mobility in a meaningful way. These eFuels are generated with renewable energy, which means that current and future combustion engines can be operated as almost CO2 neutral.
Why do we need synthetic fuels when almost only electrically powered cars are to be sold?
Because many customers still want to drive 911s. That's why we’re taking a holistic view of sustainability. Economically, ecologically and socially. If we want to make rapid progress on the path to CO2 neutrality, we must also think about the approximately 1.3 billion existing vehicles worldwide that are on the road with combustion engines. These vehicles will continue to drive on the roads for many years to come. The idea of operating the existing fleet more sustainably suits us perfectly: after all, seven out of ten of all the Porsche models ever built are still on the road.
But the production of synthetic fuels is not very energy efficient ...
Renewable electricity from Europe should best be used directly to charge electric vehicles. But the manufacture of eFuels makes sense in places where sustainable energy is readily available. In contrast to electric current, fuel can be transported without any problems. That's why we decided to launch our eFuels pilot project "Haru Oni" in Chile. There are consistently high wind speeds throughout the year there, and, as a result, the wind turbines work very efficiently.
Why does Porsche need aviation fuel?
Porsche is a pioneer of sustainable mobility. For the automotive industry, eFuels are an important contribution to reducing CO2 emissions significantly and as quickly as possible. Motorsport, testing and the initial filling of new vehicles with eFuels will soon be reality. Incidentally, synthetic fuel is also much easier to transport than pure hydrogen. It does not need to be cooled or compressed, and today's infrastructure can be used without any problems. But aviation and shipping will also benefit greatly from this, because electrification is not a real option in these transport sectors.
Can "e-fuels" keep up with conventional fuel in terms of price?,
eFuels currently cost around 10 US dollars per litre. Looking ahead, we believe that a level of less than 2 dollars per litre is realistic in the coming years.
About Oliver Blume
The qualified mechanical engineer, aged 53, holds a doctorate as a vehicle engineer, and has been working for the VW Group since 1994. Initially at Audi AG, then at Seat S.A. from 2004 to 2009. and at Volkswagen AG from 2009 to 2013. He finally moved to Porsche in 2013, where he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Management in 2015. He was also appointed to the Volkswagen Group Board of Management in 2018, where he is responsible for production.