This week the world was treated to the unveiling of the last internal combustion-powered Lotus. If there is another manufacturer which can most closely be compared to Porsche, it must be Lotus, right? While Lotus is a bit smaller than Porsche and sells far fewer cars, they are both engineering-focused companies with histories entrenched in the fabric of international motorsport. Considering Porsche’s recent shift toward electrification, it is somewhat telling that Lotus is already making the statement that it will never again design or produce a non-electric sports car. Porsche has said that 50 percent of its cars will be electric by 2025, and as much as 80 percent by 2030. So when will we see the last gasoline-powered Porsche?
The all-electric Taycan is quickly showing itself to be a massive hit for the P-car brand, selling over 10 thousand units in under a year. It is quickly growing its market share, and has already overtaken the company’s 911 and 718 sports cars in terms of sales. It’s a new and flashy piece of tech, and it’s a damn good car, all around. There’s no doubt that this thing will stick around for years to come.
Porsche seems to be hedging its bets on the Macan for now, as the current gasoline-powered Macan will be given a refresh this year, and will continue on for at least another few years in the second half of its life cycle. The Macan was introduced in 2014, and was given a light revamp in 2019. The 2021 refresh will likely include a new interior, more in-line with that of the Taycan, and some fresh sheet metal. The exciting thing on the Macan line is that a new all-electric next-generation Macan is in development for release as a 2023 model. Built on the Volkswagen Group’s PPE platform, it’s sure to be an instant success in major European and Asian markets. It’ll play really well in Los Angeles, I’m sure, and as an aspirational model, the E-Macan could spread through the country.
Porsche will sell the gasoline Macan and the electric Macan side by side on the same dealership showroom floors, despite the two cars sharing practically nothing. This could be a confusing move for many buyers, so we have to hope that dealerships and salespeople will be able to explain it clearly. Depending on the rollout of the electric Macan, Porsche will speed up or slow down the transition to all-electric.
The current Cayenne was introduced in 2018, so it’s still got some legs and will stick around the lineup for a few more years to go. There are already a number of plug-in hybrid models of the Cayenne available, including the Turbo S E-Hybrid, 4S E-Hybrid, and standard E-Hybrid, so electrification isn’t new to the Cayenne lineup. In fact, the Cayenne Hybrid was one of Porsche’s first mass-market attempts at electrification way back in 2007!
The good news is that the current Cayenne could fairly easily be converted to battery-electric propulsion if Porsche wanted to get that off the ground sooner than the next-generation architecture. Porsche’s Cayenne is built on the same MLB Evo platform as Audi’s E-Tron. If Audi has already figured out how to fit batteries to the floor of the MLB Evo architecture, it would be a simple process for Porsche to build on that expertise to produce an E-Cayenne.
Given that the Cayenne platform has a life cycle around 8-9 years, the current generation likely will be expected to continue until at least 2027.
The second-generation Panamera is much the same as the Cayenne, in that there are three different plug-in hybrid models already available for buyers to choose from; 4 E-Hybrid, 4S E-Hybrid, and Turbo S E-Hybrid. Also like the Cayenne the current Panamera was introduced just a handful of years ago and likely will continue on until at least 2024-ish. And continuing the same Cayenne theme, the Panamera is based on the VW Group MSB platform, which also underpins the Taycan and Audi E-Tron GT. There is certainly a case for a larger Taycan, and an E-Panamera could fill that slot quite easily.
Porsche has been building electric-powered Boxster and Cayman prototypes for a very long time, putting electric motors and batteries into the 987 generation and 981 generation models dating back at least a decade. It makes a lot of sense, as there is a ton of room for batteries where the engine used to be, and the chassis could accommodate electric motors at both the front and rear axles without too much issue. There are no public plans for even a hybrid version of the 718, but surely Porsche has built a few mules to figure out how that would work.
Boxster and Cayman models have traditionally had quite short lifespans, as the 986 lasted 8 years, the 987 shortened that to 7, and 981 only hung around for 4 years before swapping to 718 with the turbo four-cylinder. Sales continue to wane, and Porsche might put this mid-engine wonder out to pasture in short order. Introduced in 2016, the 718 could be out of Porsche dealer showrooms as early as 2023. Could it be replaced with an all-electric compact sports car? Boy, that sure would be awesome, wouldn’t it?
Here’s the big question that we’re all hoping to get an answer to. When will the 911 be electric?
The current 992-generation 911 has only been around for a little over two years now. It’s the newest gasoline model in Porsche’s lineup, and perhaps the most important. The 911 is the car that really drives the Porsche brand, and for decades stood as the car that defined it. These days it seems like it might be an also-ran. Despite being on an all-new platform for 2019, the 992 has been outpaced on sales by Macan, Cayenne, and Taycan. Only the high-price Panamera and low-demand 718 move in lower numbers than the 911.
911 models since the transition to water cooling have been relatively quick turnover as well. The 996 ran for six years, the 997 ran for seven, as did the 991. So if the 992 is planned to last seven or eight years, it’ll be exiting production around 2026. It’s possible that the car will continue on after that with a major revamp, much the way that a 997 was more or less a facelifted 996. At that point, it would be totally silly for Porsche to not engineer-in an all-electric offering for its top-of-the-line sports car. If that is the case, say, then the gasoline-powered models will likely only continue on for the iconic sub-brands like Turbo and GT3.
So Porsche probably hasn’t engineered its last ICE car yet, but it’s not far off. I fully expect Cayenne, Panamera, and 718 to be all-electric in the next generation. If the electric Macan proves the success I imagine it will be, Porsche will definitely hit that 80 percent electric sales by 2030 goal it has set for itself. There are, of course, some places where electric infrastructure will take a while to implement, and for that reason Porsche will have to continue selling ICE cars. Certainly important Porsche markets like South Africa, India, and the Middle East are lagging on that front.
Any number of things could happen in the next decade to throw all of these predictions into the ocean, but for now I’d wager that whatever replaces the 992 GT3 RS and Turbo will be Porsche’s last internal combustion project for the street. Engineers are likely already working on this project, and it’ll probably launch by 2027 or so.