In a world of constant change, the Porsche 911 is our rock. Our foundation. Our guiding North Star as the darkness threatens to surround us completely. No matter what happens, it will always be there to give us premium speed, good noises and a flat-six engine in the back. But as an all-new one looms, even Porsche admits it has to be careful with how much it changes things as the iconic car evolves.
We’ve maybe seen what some of it looks like already, but today Porsche dropped a heavily camouflaged image of the new 992 generation of 911. Surprise! It looks like a 911. They aren’t going to mess with much—everyone knows this car and loves it, and it makes a ton of money for Porsche as-is. It seems a revolutionary change to the 911 formula is pretty unlikely these days; I don’t think we’ll see anything as drastic as when it went water-cooled 20 years ago now.
But now, after years of back and forth, Porsche gave us the strongest hint yet that the next 911 could have some kind of electrification involved.
Here, from the release, quoting 911 model line director August Achleitner:
Electric drive technology is a good example. “Two years ago I’d have said no way. Today I wouldn’t categorically rule it out,” concedes the head of the model line.
Just to preclude any misunderstandings: the Porsche 911, Type 992 is not an electric sports car. But it could be an option somewhere down the line. Achleitner describes his ongoing change of heart: “I drove the prototype of our coming electric sports car, the Mission E, and it was a very compelling experience. And the performance of the Porsche LMP race cars with hybrid drive systems is quite simply sensational.”
Achleitner is certain that no car with a combustion engine alone could beat them around the corner. Although he admittedly clings to the flat-six engine, he can, nowadays, imagine an electric motor in the 911. So there will be a next step in terms of drive technology—if it fits Porsche and the specific character of the 911.
Emphasis mine. It’s an admittedly noncommittal answer, to be sure. But I think the fact that Porsche is even bringing this up—on its own, in a news release no less, and not some magazine interview—gives us a strong indication of what’s to come. It’s as if they’re trying to warm the 911 faithful up to this idea when it happens. We’ve seen them do this before!
So will the next 911 go full electric, or full hybrid across the board? My guess is no, and that more likely we’ll see one version of the 911 as a high-performance hybrid electric with tech derived from the Mission E. Maybe the day will come when all 911s are electrified, but that’s a ways off if it ever happens. And I think with the 992, we’ll see Porsche dip its toes into that water for the first time.
Achleitner does address evolution in a positive way:
It was 2015 when the last naturally aspirated engine in the rear of the Carrera was completely replaced by a turbo engine. “Some fans rushed the barricades; it was all gloom and doom for many,” recalls Achleitner. “And then the same thing happened as always: nothing.” The new models have always received even more rave reviews than their predecessors. “That encourages us to think about fundamental innovations in the future as well.”
People will keep buying these things, and the old ones will command insane used car prices eventually. All of this has happened before. All of it will happen again.