Porsche leads fight for ICE survival

Porsche leads fight for ICE survival

eFuels could save the 911 from an enforced electric future, but while Porsche is an advocate, Volkswagen boss, Thomas Schäfer, has called the debate “unnecessary noise”…


Porsche is leading the fight for sustainable fuels, which may be able to save the 911’s internal combustion engine (ICE) from extinction. In February, the brand opened its first eFuels production facility in Punta Arenas, Chile. The project is the result of a $100 million investment by Porsche into HIF Global LLC, a synthetic fuel producer and one that also counts ExxonMobil and Siemens Energy among its backers.

The new Haru Oni eFuels plant is the result of the partnership. The facility enables Porsche to produce synthetic fuels on an industrial scale for the first time, generating 130,000 litres of (almost CO2 neutral) eFuels every year for Porsche. These will be used to power the Supercup grid alongside other road-going Porsche. Safe to use in every type of vehicle Porsche has ever made without modification – including all generations of 911 – eFuels offer an environmentally friendly alternative to an all-electric future for the range.

Michael Steiner, member of the executive board for development and research at Porsche (pictured above), said: “The potential of eFuels is huge. There are more than 1.3 billion vehicles with combustion engines worldwide. Many of these will be on the roads for decades to come, and eFuels offer the owners of existing cars a nearly carbon-neutral alternative.” However, while Porsche is an advocate of the technology and its potential to save its sports cars from electricity, Volkswagen boss, Thomas Schäfer, is not. And you won’t need us to remind you that Porsche is a subsidiary of VW. At the unveiling of VW’s latest electric concept car, Thomas told journalists that the eFuels debate was “unnecessary noise” and a “discussion distracting from the point”. Thomas believes these fuels are best reserved for commercial vehicle and aviation applications.

The row comes as the German government pushes back against the European Union’s ban on ICE car sales after 2035. German transport secretary, Michael Theurer, has urged the EU to reconsider its position on carbon-neutral fuels, such as eFuels, with a view to exempting them from the ban, which is planned to come into effect just twelve years from now.

While Porsche believes there’s a place for electric propulsion and eFuels to coexist in the future, in what it calls a “double-e path”, it’s clear the company sees the potential of the technology to save the 911’s combustion engine from extinction.

WHAT ARE eFUELS?

eFuels is one of several different categories of sustainable fuels, both natural and synthetic. They all share a common thread: their manufacture doesn’t involve fossil fuels, and they’re highly environmentally friendly. The Porsche system at Haru Oni creates electricity using wind turbines, which is used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis. At the same time, carbon dioxide is captured either from the air or biological waste (the Chile plant gets this from a local beer factory), and once combined they create eMethanol. The eMethanol is converted into synthetic gasoline via synthesis, which results in the CO2-neutral operation of petrol engines. Sustainable fuels are as easy to make, transport and store as traditional gasoline, which means that they could easily fit into our existing infrastructure and way of life. While they’re currently expensive, prices would fall as adoption gathers pace.

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