Porsche's brightest minds clash over whether the sacred 911 should go hybrid

Ronan Glon

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The emblematic Porsche 911 hasn't adopted electrification yet in spite of the endless rumors claiming it would. The current-generation model (pictured) was developed with zero-emissions powertrains in mind, and prototypes are being tested around the world, but analyzing conflicting reports from both sides of the Atlantic leads us to conclude that hybrid and electric versions of the 911 still aren't in Porsche's short-term product plan.

The company told Auto Express its engineers are testing gasoline-electric prototypes in real-world conditions. Technical specifications remain off the record, but the publication learned development work has advanced to the point where Porsche is debating whether to push the 911 hybrid towards performance or towards range.

"The platform is hybrid-ready, and we have prototypes. I drive it myself, it's fun," said Michael Steiner, Porsche's board member for research and development, in an interview with Auto Express. He added the model he's testing is one of the performance-oriented test mules. The publication concluded the hybrid 911 is coming in 2023.

On the surface, that's that. The 911 is going hybrid in three short years. And yet, not everyone at Porsche agrees with Steiner's assessment, and the 911 hybrid's odds of reaching production vary depending on who you ask.

Still in England, Autocar spoke to Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche's sports car line director, and learned he's not enthralled by the idea of adding a battery pack and a plug to the 911, whether it's for efficiency or performance.

"It's really difficult to do with the 911 and the way it is packaged. We want to keep it as a 2+2, we want to keep decent trunk space, and we don't want to destroy its shape," he explained, counting three strikes against the idea of a gasoline-electric 911. There's one more: "I am not ready to put that amount of additional weight into the car. If you wanted to make such a car, it would be easier to make a completely new car," he summed up.

It's clear that the 992-generation 911's architecture was developed with electrification in mind, even if it sounds like it would be more of a compromise than a natural fit. Some of the men and women responsible for moving the model forward consider it sacred, and they don't all like the idea of adding a plug to it. There's also a big question mark hovering around buyer demand; enthusiasts aren't exactly begging for a plug-in hybrid system.

Speaking to Roadshow, an anonymous company spokesperson doused cold water on the reports claiming a hybrid 911 has been approved and is well on its way to production. "Both a hybrid version and a fully electric model are technically conceivable, but no plans have been made for either at this time. Additionally, the potential offered by combustion engines is by no means exhausted, as there is still further room for optimization in this area," the site learned. Additional 911 variants are coming soon, but it sounds like a hybrid isn't one.

Porsche has considered making an electric version of the 911, but it's even further out than the hybrid.

"The 911 will be the last Porsche to become electric. [It will come] hopefully after my retirement so I'm not responsible anymore and no one can blame me. I will fight to let the 911 keep its gasoline engine," concluded Walliser. He added expecting to see a series-produced electric 911 before 2030 is unrealistic.

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