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by Adam Lynton
Porsche is looking to splash out on plug-ins, with the Panamera one of the first to get the treatment.
According to Automotive News, Porsche will begin production of a plug-in hybrid variant of the Panamera super sedan in 2014. The car is penciled in for the US but the timing of its release is unclear. Sources familiar with the situation also claim that parent company VW will produce plug-in hybrids of the Audi Q7 crossover and the Europe-only VW Passat sometime in 2014 or 2015. Meanwhile Audi CEO Rupert Stadler confirmed plug-in hybrid versions of the A3, A4 and Q7 would come in 2014.
This follows news that a modular plug-in hybrid setup is being developed for the VW Group, with Bentley, Audi and VW set to benefit. Likewise, Porsche will utilize the setup that is in all probability similar to that found in the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. Here, the internal combustion engine and electric drive systems can both send power directly to the wheels, so that electric-only driving can be used for brief journeys with the gas engine kicking in when sports car performance is needed. "We are really convinced that the future of hybrids won't be pure hybrids, but the plug-in hybrids."
So said Rudolf Krebs, VW's group chief officer for electric traction, in an interview last week. Furthermore, Krebs claims VW plans to introduce plug-in hybrids for luxury cars first as owners tend to drive them over longer distances.