Porsche’s recent investment in the production of environmentally-friendly, synthetic eFuel will drive the construction of a pilot-scale production plant in Australia within the next few years, likely followed by larger scale industrial facilities.
Speaking at the announcement of Porsche’s latest A$100 million investment in the development of synthetic eFuel in South America, the company’s head of research and development, Michael Steiner, confirmed Porsche and its partners are looking for other suitable global production sites, including Australia and North America that are “places which have large supplies of renewable energy.”
Mr Steiner told CarsGuide: “We are pioneers in this direction, scouting and looking for different locations in Australia, to establish an initial plant of similar size to the pilot (300 megawatt) site in Chile, and are hoping to make some announcements during this year.”
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According to Mr Steiner the “electrically-based” synthetic fuels will allow close to CO2-neutral operation of internal-combustion engines.
Mr Steiner made it clear e-mobility is the brand’s “main track” but not the only one.
“In megacities, the bigger trend will be e-mobility, but not everywhere is there a grid to support all cars with electricity. Then for sports cars there are advantages for ICE burning, and we would like to run our beloved 911,” he said.
Porsche claims more than 70 per cent of the million-plus 911s produced since the model’s introduction in 1963 are still on the road.
The pilot production plant being built by eFuel specialist HIF Global in Punta Arenas, Chile will take two and half years to construct with initial annual production volume set at 150,000 litres.
By 2024 the global plan is to produce 55 million litres, and 550 million litres in 2026. At that point Mr Steiner estimates a US$2.00 per litre production cost, which doesn’t take tax or local tariffs into account.
But Porsche doesn’t see itself as an eventual retail competitor to BP or Shell. Initial application of the new fuel is likely to be in Porsche’s motorsport programs, followed by the company’s own vehicles, initial fuelling of customer vehicles, and at the brand’s 10 Experience Centres around the globe.
From there Mr Steiner says additional supply may mean “a fraction of eFuel blended in the fuel you use to fill up at the pump, contributing to an overall reduction of fossil materials”.
Having acquired a long-term (12.5 per cent) stake in HIF Global, and already working with Siemens Energy and ExxonMobil, Porsche sees its main opportunities in transport areas “where batteries aren’t perfectly suited”, specifically aviation and shipping.
Mr Steiner also confirmed Porsche is in talks with other car (and motorcycle) manufacturers. So watch this space!