Porsche Introduces a (Relatively) Affordable Plug-In Hybrid

By · April 03, 2013

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid will be very quick. "It's a genuine Porsche," the company says. (Porsche photo)

It’s not entirely news that Porsche is entering the plug-in hybrid market. The company said back in 2010 that it would turn its audacious 918 Spyder into a production car, albeit one starting at $845,000 (over $1 million with options). That 718-horsepower car (in a limited edition of 918) will be out later this year, and now it has a relatively more affordable cousin, the Panamera S E-Hybrid that’s being launched with that vehicle’s second generation.

At $99,975 (including dealer prep), the S E-Hybrid is not exactly a plug-in for the rest of us, but it could be a good alternative to the Karma from failing Fisker, or maybe a competitor for the suddenly lease-ready Tesla Model S, too.

Coming Late in 2013

Nick Twork, a Porsche spokesman, told me the S E-Hybrid will be on the market late this year, complementing the S Hybrid that makes up five to 10 percent of current sales (and seven other Panamera variants). The S E-Hybrid offers an electric motor with twice the power output, 95 horsepower compared to the hybrid’s 47. The battery’s much bigger, too, 9.4 kilowatt-hours compared to 1.7 in the hybrid.

Porsche 918 Spyder

The Porsche 918 Spyder is ultra-high performance, a limited edition, and $845,000. (Porsche photo)

Under the hood is a twin-turbo three-liter V-6, and with the electric motor it produces a stunning 416 horsepower. Zero to 60 comes up in 5.2 seconds (faster than a Boxster, and a half second faster than the S), and top speed is 167 mph. Approximately 20 miles of electric-only driving is available, according to European testing. A full 240-volt charge takes 2.5 hours. “It’s a genuine Porsche,” Twork said.

It’s unlikely that the car will be setting any speed records in electric mode, where 84 m.p.h. is tops. Instead, there’s an electric boost function (accessible through a kickdown switch in the throttle pedal) for max acceleration that gives the car an edge with both systems at full bore.

The Sportiest Plug-In Hybrid?

“For us, the plug-in hybrid is a subset of the market for the Panamera,” Twork said. “We aim to be the sportiest car in any segment. Our cars have historically tempered performance with efficiency, thanks to lightweight construction and good aerodynamics. The 911 is the core of the Porsche brand, and the goal was always to have an everyday sports car.”

Porsche S E-Hybrid

The next-gen Porsche Panamera includes this plug-in hybrid as part of the line-up. (Porsche photo)

The second-gen Panamera will come in a stretched Executive model with 5.9 more inches and great rear legroom, but the S E-Hybrid won’t be available in that format. It won’t be the most expensive model in the Panamera line, either, since the 4S Executive will be $125,600 and the Turbo Executive $161,100.

The plug-in Porsche probably won’t sell better than the hybrid, but I expect it to do fairly well among well-heeled early adopters. “It’s a very interesting technical exercise,” said Twork.

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