Why is Porsche investing vehemently in Synthetic fuel?

Porsche’s interest in synthetic fuel goes back a few years now, but the reasons behind the company’s desire to offer a sustainable alternative to gasoline reach back into its racing past and that of the 911. Today, Porsche announced a big step forward in the production of commercial liquid synthetic fuel: an investment of $75 million in Chilean eFuel producer Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF).

Porsche and Synthetic Fuel

Porsche (and the Volkswagen Group as a whole) remains hugely invested in bringing more electric vehicles to market, with Porsche itself spending hundreds of millions of dollars on EV technology. But new EVs don’t help today’s Porsche owners, which is where Porsche’s investment in a gas substitute called eFuel comes in.

Porsche says the electricity-based synthetic fuel that’s produced using wind energy is almost carbon neutral and that it is an ideal option for driving enthusiasts. The company wants to sell eFuel at its Experience Centers and may one day deliver all new cars with a tank of eFuel, Porsche executive board member Michael Steiner said on a conference call with reporters, but there’s one other important market for a carbon-neutral fuel.

Electric Future of Racing

“Besides racing and the Porsche Experience Center, the iconic 911 is the main focus for our eFuel project,” Steiner said. Porsche knows that it doesn’t matter in the big picture if you say you’re eliminating carbon emissions from this model or that one; the key is to get fossil fuels out of the picture. If you can do that, and still drive a liquid-fueled car, why not make it a 911? Steiner said. Porsche wants to provide its drivers with this option wherever feasible.

Porsche’s $75 million investment is enough to give the automaker a stake in HIF of around 12.5 percent. HIF’s eFuel production method, developed with help from Siemens Energy and ExxonMobil, uses wind power to turn hydrogen and CO2 into a liquid fuel. HIF expects to start producing eFuel in Chile in the middle of this year.

Porsche’s Investment in Synthetic Fuel

That fuel works in any car that burns gasoline, which is exactly what a carbon-neutral needs to do, Steiner said. Porsche could probably design a fuel for a specific engine, but whatever efficiency gains you might find wouldn’t solve the main problem: letting old 911s continue to cruise the streets without contributing much of anything to global warming. Some of Porsche’s HIF investment will be spent bringing eFuel production sites to places other than Chile, such as the U.S. and Australia. Porsche said it thinks aviation and ocean shipping companies might also be interested in eFuels. Porsche plans to introduce more of the world to eFuels through “motorsport flagship projects,” but no details have been released.

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