If a little bird were to whisper some almost astounding news in your ear regarding the well-known automobile manufacturer who currently (pun intended) offers the most plug-in hybrid models in the industry and you heard the word "Porsche" - would that surprise you?
Yes, Porsche. Not Toyota, Honda or even Ford. Porsche. Over the past few years, it's become clear that the German prestige automakers are determined to offer plug-in electric vehicles across their various range of models.
The latest is the 2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, which adds a plug-in hybrid powertrain to the sports car maker's large, fast, and very profitable sport-utility vehicle (SUV). The popular Cayenne, now in its second generation, has been offered previously with hybrid and diesel powertrains – though neither has sold in volume in the North American market.
Combining a proven supercharged 3.0-litre V-6 engine with a 70-kilowatt (95-horsepower) electric motor sandwiched between the engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission, Porsche's engineers boast that the conventional automatic works more smoothly with the E-Hybrid's electric motor than the dual-clutch transmission used in gasoline models!
Yes, Porsche. Not Toyota, Honda or even Ford. Porsche.
A 9.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack powers the electric motor; replacing the previous 1.7-kWh nickel-metal-hydride pack used in the Cayenne S Hybrid. Total output is above 400 hp.
The plug-in hybrid system used in the Cayenne is identical to that already on sale in the 4-door Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid. The plug-in hybrid version of the Porsche Panamera luxury sedan has actually replaced the previous Panamera S hybrid version, although it's not clear whether the same will apply to the Cayenne SUV model range as well at this time. Interesting; the plug-in hybrid Panamera is selling in slightly higher numbers than its plain hybrid predecessor.
If you have been keeping score, you should be expecting the third Porsche plug-in – that would be the limited-edition Porsche 918 Spyder, the high-performance plug-in hybrid supercar with only 205 units built – and at a price approaching one million dollars.
So, Porsche currently leads the charge! Other European-based manufacturers' makers are more aggressive (BMW), some less so (Mercedes-Benz); however, by the end of 2015, there will likely be a dozen or more plug-in hybrids from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volkswagen.