Panamera S E-Hybrid: A True Plug-in and a True Porsche

By · May 16, 2013

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

It's usually easy to tell if a car is a plug-in: there's no exhaust pipe. But the Porsche Panamera S e-hybrid is no ordinary plug-in. It has four large pipes on its rear. The message is clear: This is not an electric car with a range extender.

The gas engine is a powerful unit. This car needs it to be a real Porsche. In its home country at least, the first thing drivers expect from a Porsche is the ability of sustained high-speed driving. If it can't do 140 miles in one hour with total confidence on the part if the drive—well, then it's not a Porsche.

This Panamera has a top speed of 167 miles per hour, and everything in it is built to that requirement for speed—that is, except the electric motor and its battery. When running in EV mode, the top speed is limited to 84 m.p.h. Today's batteries don't allow sustained high-speed driving, but this Panamera has plenty innovations under its muscular body. The best example may be its cooling systems. There are no fewer than five such systems on this vehicle.

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, battery's cooling system

There's one for the electric motor, which is air-cooled. All the other components needing thermal control are water-cooled: the gas engine, the intake air for the two turbochargers, the electronics power control unit, and finally the battery. Each component has different requirements, so it wasn't possible to integrate all those into a single global cooling system. Nonetheless, Porsche is making sure the car will perform as expected in Alaska as in Arizona, in city traffic or on the autobahn.

Another critical system is the charger. The battery stores 9.4 kilowatt-hours of energy—good for 21 miles of all-electric driving, according to Porsche. On a battery this small, most people would expect a charging system designed for a standard home socket, but not Porsche, which has built an interesting dual-tension charger. The charger is a 3.8 kW unit, and it works as well with 230-volt home current, or 380-volt industrial current. Charging time is 3.8 hours with the first, or about 2 hours and 20 minutes with the second. It's a great idea for Europe, but there's no confirmation yet if the American market, with different electricity, will get that same set-up.

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, interior

The Panamera S E-Hybrid always starts in electric mode. The driver then has the choice to engage the hybrid mode, if he wants more performance, or to save electrical energy. There is a Sport mode for even better performance, but it's also possible to lock the car in electric mode. And there's a charge mode, in which the the battery can be recharged on the go in about 45 minutes, depending on driving conditions.

The driver is always in control of everything. Porsche drivers expect this. The only thing wrong is that the Panamera, even with its updated styling, doesn't look as good as the late Fisker Karma. But the Porsche is better built, and much faster. In fact, it's the fastest regular production plug-in hybrid car on the market. That's impressive, but nobody shall forget that the first plug-in hybrid was a Porsche, some 110 years ago. Get used to it. A plug-in hybrid 911 should appear before the end of the decade.

New to EVs? Start here

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  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
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