In today’s gasoline conscious society, driving a wasteful luxury SUV is often seen akin to drowning puppies, stealing cookies from girl scouts, or some such other terrible crime. In just a few years, environmentally-friendly SUV drivers everywhere will be able to make amends by hopping in a new Cayenne Hybrid. Porsche showed off a prototype version of the new Cayenne – their first ever hybrid vehicle – earlier this week.
Unlike in some other hybrid systems, the Cayenne’s electric motor is mounted in-line between its gasoline engine and transmission, resulting in better performance figures and fuel efficiency. The truck also saves gas by running other components, like the air conditioner and transmission oil pump, on electricity alone, and will be the first sporty SUV to feature electro-hydraulic power steering. The whole vehicle is controlled by a central computer, which Porsche calls the Hybrid Manager. The computer monitors about 20,000 data parameters at a time, making it one of the most powerful computers found in any hybrid.
It is reported that Porsche’s hybrid system will allow the sport-ute to cruise at 70 mph on electric power alone, although it will certainly need gasoline power to reach this speed. Porsche has also said that they plan to use the new technology for a hybrid version of the Panamera four-door sedan, which debuts in 2009.
So just how green is the new Cayenne? When it is finished, it should get between 24 and 26 mpg, a 25% fuel savings over the standard base Cayenne. That may not be enough for the car to save the world, but at least it will save face for its new owners.