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Porsche Panamera

Hybrid drive for Porsche Panamera

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Porsches are, of course, wonderful on many levels but eco friendliness isn't one of them. Indeed, just two models in the current range are under the 225g/km Band G cut off.

Hence, more than most, Porsche has reason to be fearful of proposed EU legislation to bring a blanket 130g/km limit across all new cars.

So news that it will build a hybrid version of its forthcoming Panamera Gran Turismo four-door coupé will come as little surprise. Due in 2009, the Panamera can be considered Porsche's answer to cars like the Mercedes CLS and Maserati Quattroporte, albeit one with a considerably more sporting bias. Initially the car will use what Porsche refers to as 'proven drive concepts' - conventional combustion engines to the rest of us - but the hybrid version will follow. Porsche has pledged to introduce a production version of its Cayenne Hybrid concept by the end of the decade and although no timescale has been offered for the Panamera you can be sure it won't be far behind.

The parallel hybrid drive system initially developed for the Cayenne and being used for the Panamera puts the batteries in the rear of the car and the electric motor and other drive hardware in a module between the petrol engine and the gearbox. As such the Panamera Hybrid can run via the electric motor alone, purely petrol power or a combination of the two to provide, in Porsche's words, 'the sporting style so typical of a Porsche.' In the Cayenne version Porsche is aiming for fuel consumption of over 30mpg - a figure the lighter and more aerodynamic Panamera should easily better.

Porsche has a longer history in hybrids than you might think too. Indeed, one of Ferdinand Porsche's first creations was a hub-mounted electric motor that he developed back in 1897. Shortly afterwards this innovation was used in the Lohner Porsche, a series hybrid that used a combustion engine connected to a dynamo to generate electrical power for the direct drive motors in the wheel hubs. Over 100 years later is Porsche's return to hybrid power enough to raise its eco credentials? It's a step in the right direction but don't expect a hybrid 911 any time soon.