LOS ANGELES -- While the industry rushes toward lithium ion batteries as a power source for electric vehicles, Porsche AG thinks the advanced batteries also have a role to play in high-end sports cars -- as starter batteries.
Next month, Porsche will begin offering a smaller, lighter weight rechargeable lithium ion battery as a factory option on the new Boxster Spyder and 911 GT3 and GT3 RS in lieu of Porsche's normal lead-acid starter battery.
The option will cost a hefty $1,700. It also will be offered as a retail retrofit on those three models starting in February.
Other automakers have been embracing lithium ion batteries for their extended range in energy storage, and global lithium ion production capacity is rising. The technology is at the heart of future hybrids and electric vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.
But Porsche is promoting the technology as a way to save 9 pounds in vehicle weight, a step that could improve a car's agility in a small way, says Hans-Juergen Woehler, product director for Porsche's Boxster line.
Porsche's lead-acid starter weighs 22 pounds. The lithium ion option weighs less than 13.
The company acknowledges that while the more expensive battery is a technological improvement over the lead-acid battery, the lithium ion battery has some starting limitations at below-freezing temperatures.
But the automaker is warning customers that lithium ion starter batteries can be spotty in getting the car started when temperatures are below freezing. Porsche believes most of the interest in the battery option probably will come from temperate markets, such as Southern California and Florida.