Porsche has driven one more nail into the coffin of diesel engines. According to Autocar, the company has stopped installing diesel engines in any of its vehicles, effective immediately. The move is certainly tied to recent developments that have further tarnished the once glittering reputation of diesel on the Continent. Last month, German regulators ordered Audi to recall 127,000 cars fitted with the latest Euro 6 spec diesel engines.
Porsche, like Audi, sources its diesel engines from within the Volkswagen group. Audi says it will rework the emissions control software in an attempt to bring those engines into compliance but Porsche has apparently decided it does not want the hassle. Diesel engines also took their lumps this week with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche warning that declining sales of its cars with compression ignition engines may lead to severe disruptions within its supply chain. Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW are under fire as well after it was revealed recently that they collaborated on diesel exhaust research on humans and animals.
What has made the decision to stop making cars with diesel engines easier for Porsche is that sales of its plug-in hybrid models have taken off. Fully half of all Panamera sales — the company’s top of the line prestige sedan — are now plug-ins. Diesel sales never exceeded 15% of global sales. Porsche has not offered diesel-powered versions of its products in North American since 2015, when the Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal broke.
The popularity of its plug-in models has surprised Porsche executives. A spokesperson for the company says diesel variants have now been “taken out of the production program” as a result of a “cultural shift” in buyer tastes. Porsche is investing heavily in its Mission E program, which will see its first ever battery electric car go into production as early as next year. Simultaneously, the warm reception the public has given to its plug-in hybrid offerings will lead to even more plug-in models in the future.
Porsche has always been known for its engines, from the 4-cylinder boxer engines in its original 356 series to the fire breathing monsters that dominated Le Mans for years. Is Porsche is turning its back on internal combustion engines? Not necessarily. Earlier this week, Michael Steiner, a member of Porsche’s executive board for research and development, issued this statement.
“Will Porsche turn its back completely on combustion engines after the market launch of the Mission E? By no means. Or at least not in the foreseeable future. Purely electric vehicles will play an increasingly significant role in the future, for Porsche as well as for everyone else. In our opinion, a scenario in which every fourth Porsche vehicle is delivered with an electric powertrain by 2025 is entirely realistic, provided the demand is there.”
Not to worry, Herr Steiner. Judging by the success of the company’s plug-in hybrid powertrains, Porsche customers are ready to move on from the company’s humble beginnings. Cute little tail-happy sports cars were one thing, but technologically advanced electric cars will be the people’s cars of the future.
Photo by the author.
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