STUTTGART – Porsche is reluctant to build a hybrid-powered version of its Cayenne premium SUV because it fears the car would be unprofitable.
Hybrid technology also would violate Porsche’s purist approach to engineering, executives at the company say.
The thought of a driver only hearing the faint noise of an electric engine horrifies Porsche engineers as does the prospect of having to simulate an engine sound through speakers while the vehicle is being driven by an electric motor.
A task force of about 12 employees will study over the summer whether Porsche should build a hybrid Cayenne.
Rising sales of hybrid vehicles in the US and the launch of the Lexus RX400h premium SUV in Europe have put pressure on the German sports car maker to offer a hybrid version of the Cayenne.
If the project goes forward, the model likely would not make money, said Rainer Wüst, Porsche’s director of chassis development.
“We cannot conceive that a hybrid Cayenne would sell in large enough numbers to make money,” said Wüst.
To limit the financial loss, a hybrid Cayenne could be sold in California only, he said.
Wolfgang Dürheimer, Porsche’s board member for research and development, said the carmaker may be forced to sell a hybrid Cayenne because of consumer pressure in the US, the carmaker’s top sales market last year with a volume of 31,473 units.
He said Porsche is talking to other automakers about sharing hybrid technology.