Electrification of modern cars in the near future is seen as an inevitability by most in the industry. Not Preuninger, who on a media call with Australian journalists remained defiant about when Porsche’s GT cars will go hybrid.
This is a challenge not only because of ever-tightening emissions regulations (which Preuninger says Porsche is being “strangled” by) but also due to the company’s self-imposed goals.
Porsche has committed to being entirely carbon neutral as a company by 2030. This extends to the batteries it purchases from third parties, with CEO Oliver Blume being blunt about how it will affect the company’s relationships with other businesses.
“In the next step, we will also demand this from our suppliers. Anyone who develops battery cells for us must manufacture them exclusively with sustainable energy,” Blume said.
So, how does Preuninger balance his quest for near-eternal purity for the 911, with the company’s campaign to become carbon neutral in the near future?
“We are a strong believer in synthetic fuels,” the GT division boss said, before letting slip that the benefits aren’t solely environmental. “You can even make more power with those, and they are a lot cleaner.”
Though, to achieve the golden goose egg of more power without extra carbon emissions, more money will need to be invested, something the Stuttgart manufacturer is already doing.
“It is more expensive but the more you spend money in developing that process the better, and the lower the cost will be in the end,” Preuninger added.
“Look at all the cars with combustion engines currently out there. You can’t suddenly stop using them one day.
“The cars we buy now should run in 20 years and there should be a way to operate these cars with a lot less emissions.”
“This will help us keep the combustion engine alive, especially for 911, and cars like GT cars.”
A simplistic look at the new 911 GT3 would interpret its minor power bump over the previous generation as Porsche winding back on combustion-engine development. Not so says Preuninger, who explained that much of the 992 GT3’s engine development was spent making sure all the regulatory boxes were ticked, while also keeping Porsche’s customer demands met.
“It is getting more difficult, particularly over here in Europe, because we are strangled by laws and regulations, and it gets harder and harder to fulfil everything,” he stated firmly.
Still, he remains defiant about when his department will begin working with hybrid technology.
“I am sure that the GT model line will not be the first to introduce something like that,” he said.
“I wouldn’t’ say that hybridisation would be a bad thing for a GT car in the future. But, and this is a big but, we have to consider the weight. Technology must give us some answers on how to substantially – and I really mean substantially – lower the weight by going electric. If you have too small a battery, it doesn’t make sense because you just have boost for a few miles and then it is over and you just carry the weight around.”
For Preuninger, his reluctance to adopt electrification solutions just yet isn’t entirely driven by performance – though that is a significant factor – but also by the demands of his customers.
“A 1.9-tonne GT car, I don’t think there is a market for something like that, and I don’t think there are any tyres for that. We have to get the weight out of those systems. If we can reach the point where we can add a system with a penalty of just 100kg and nothing more then we can start talking.
“But near future? Definitely not. The GT cars will be the last to convert to something like that.”
Instead of building what he thinks customers want, Preuninger went straight to the source and asked them, completing a survey of more than 8000 Porsche GT car owners to better understand their desires.
The result? A green light for more keenly focused performance cars, particularly those with an RS suffix.
“We always have ideas coming from racing, that make the car even more track focused, but perhaps not as useable for the normal 911 owner on the street,” he said.
“A one track minded car, which is exactly what the RS customers are looking for.
“The RS customers are really looking for a car that is capable on the track. This is priority number one. They are willing to sacrifice some creature comforts, or comfort in general, because they use their car as a sporting tool.
“Our task is to concentrate on that purpose. If you look at our race car model lines there are some features we can really use on the street car as well. The only task is to make those street legal.
The new 992 GT3 is currently on-par with the outgoing 991.2 GT3 RS in terms of lap times, putting Preuninger and his team in a difficult position as they develop the next generation of Porsche’s fastest naturally aspirated model.
“We will be going more extreme than where the base GT3 is positioned today,” the GT division boss stated, confirming development of the 992 GT3 RS is currently under way.
After dropping that nugget of information, Preuninger confirming a 992 GT2 RS was also in the pipeline. He did, however, make a tantalising ‘hypothetical’ statement.
“If we were to build a new GT2 RS you can be guaranteed that there would be a [performance] gap [to the 992 Turbo S] that would be big enough to justify the model.”
Considering the numbers the Turbo S is capable of, it’s fair to say that Porsche GT cars wont be found wanting, even as their competition lean on batteries and electrification to keep up.
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