Porsche Primes Boxsters for Electric Drive


Porsche has tapped a trio of Boxster sports cars to serve as the latest guinea pigs in the automaker’s experiments with electric drive. The German company announced on Monday that it’s outfitting three Boxsters with electric drive components and battery systems that are under development at Porsche. And starting in early 2011 the automaker plans to run the vehicles through daily on-road testing to gather information about those systems as well as infrastructure for plug-in cars.

If you’re eager to see Porsche joining Roadster maker Tesla Motors (s TSLA) in the all-electric sports car market, don’t hold your breath. Porsche President and CEO Michael Macht commented in a statement today that while the automaker “will definitely be offering electric sports cars in the future,” he doesn’t think this technology will make sense unless it “offers performance and a cruising range comparable to that of a sports car today.”
For Porsche, that’s where hybrids come into play. The company plans to launch a hybrid version of its Cayenne S SUV this year (three years after unveiling the first functional prototype) and a hybrid Panamera S sedan in 2011. Macht has previously told AutoWeek that Porsche aims to have hybrids account for up to 30 percent of its sales within 5-10 years, with hints that “some kind of Boxster would be part of that plan in less than three years.”

High-performance luxury vehicles of course are a niche market, so Porsche’s plans to eventually enter the EV market will at best take a small nibble out of emissions from consumer vehicles. But it will be interesting to see how this niche segment takes shape over the next few years — in particular how Tesla handles competition in a market where it has gone virtually unchallenged since the Roadster launched two years ago.

Image courtesy of Porsche

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