Porsche shows hybrid vehicle, mulls e-car, lithium air batteries

February 24, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At an IBM event, sports car manufacturer Porsche gave insights into its electromobility strategy. Like other manufacturers, Porsche regards energy storage as the main issue for electric driving. Surprisingly, IBM seems to have an answer to this topic – at least in the long run.

At the presentation of a study on future individual mobility conducted by IBM, Porsche as one of the participants brought along his hybrid research platform. The vehicle offers an 80 kW electric motor and stores enough electric energy for a purely electric range of 20 to 30 kilometers – not very spectacular. But Armin Mueller who at Porsche is in charge for innovation and concepts, provided an insight into the company's strategy regarding e-mobility.

Mueller explained that by 2015, plug-in hybrid versions will be available for all Porsche model families. Range extenders won't be Porsche's answer to the driving range question. “If a car has an internal combustion engine on board, it is more effective to use it for propulsion purposes instead of just for charging a battery”, Mueller said.

One for the road: Porsche's hybrid research car.

Mueller also said no to the much-discussed idea that electric vehicles should be built according to specifically e-vehicle design concepts. “The basic vehicle must be drive-agnostic,” he said. “A vehicle specifically architectured for electric driving never will be manufactured in sufficient quantities to justify the effort”. Mueller hinted that Porsche is working on a modular drive concept that fits several car types.

There are many enablers for electric driving, Mueller said, but the real key element is the battery. “Unless batteries won't have a capacity three to four times of what we have today, the idea of electric driving won't take off”, Mueller said. An alternative to the lithium ion technology currently regarded as the most promising solution could be lithium air batteries which theoretically can provide the desired energy. “Lithium air is the only battery technology that could provide a driving range of 800 km – a prerequisite of electric driving”, Mueller said.

In its research labs in Almaden Alto and Zurich, IBM is conducting research on this battery type. Currently, the researchers believe that this battery type has a potential