- evs are the future, but vehicles with internal-combustion engines are not going to disappear any time soon, which is why synthetic fuels could provide a greener option for the vast majority of the cars on the road today.
- the efuels that porsche is testing use co2 and hydrogen ingredients and are made using renewable energy, which significantly lowers the greenhouse gas emissions compared to petroleum-based fuels.
- porsche is far from first to dip into synthetic-fuel research. audi, bosch, and mclaren have all been talking about and working on the technology for years.
in the race for greener mobility, nearly every automaker is now focused on electric vehicles. but buying an ev doesn’t change the fact that the vast majority of cars being sold today are powered by gasoline, and they're going to remain on the road for a long time. as a way to make driving existing vehicles more sustainable, porsche has been working on synthetic fuels it calls efuels that the company says can make an internal-combustion engine as clean as an ev.
porsche’s efuels are made out of co2 and hydrogen and are produced using renewable energy. the final result is a liquid that an engine will burn the same as if it was gasoline made from crude oil, but an efuel can be produced in a climate-neutral manner, at least in theory. speaking at the recent launch of the new 911 gt3, porsche vice president of motorsport and gt cars frank walliser said the company will have its first small test batch—just 130,000 liters, or 34,340 gallons—of efuel ready by 2022.
"synthetic fuel is cleaner and there is no byproduct ,and when we start full production we expect a co2 reduction of 85 percent," walliser told the u.k. publication evo. "from a 'well to wheel' perspective—and you have to consider the well-to-wheel impact of all vehicles—this will be the same level of co2 produced in the manufacture and use of an electric vehicle."
one of efuel’s big benefits is that you can pump it into a standard gasoline-powered vehicle without needing to make any adjustments to the engine. porsche's efuel is not meant just for roadgoing vehicles, either. the newest porsche 911 gt3 cup race car can run on synthetic fuels, which porsche said "significantly lowers co2 emissions under racing conditions."
"this technology is particularly important because the combustion engine will continue to dominate the automotive world for many years to come," said michael steiner, a member of porche's executive board for r&d, said in a statement in september. "if you want to operate the existing fleet in a sustainable manner, efuels are a fundamental component."
porsche is not the first automaker to investigate cleaner petroleum-substitute fuels, by any means. audi produced its first batch of e-diesel in 2015, for example, and bentley, mazda, and mclaren have all said positive things about synthetic fuels. meanwhile, mercedes-benz has taken an opposing stance, with r&d chief markus schäfer having told the u.k. publication autocar in 2020 that e-fuel is not a viable option and that the automaker is focusing solely on electrification.
in a similar vein, e85, a non-carbon neutral gasoline substitute made from 85 percent corn-based ethanol, has been promoted in the u.s. since the 1990s, with more than 100 e85-compatible models sold here since then, from the mercedes-benz cla250 to the chrysler 300, from the chevrolet impala to the ram 1500.