Porsche says its synthetic fuel could make gasoline engines as clean as electric vehicles

The Porsche Taycan may be one of the most exciting electric vehicles on the market right now, but that doesn’t mean the German automaker is ready to give up the combustion engine just yet.

Motorsport and GT Cars Brand Vice President Dr. Frank Walliser told British car magazine Evo that the company is hard at work on synthetic fuel technology that could save traditional gas-powered mills. Fuel won’t just reduce emissions either; it has the potential to make combustion engines as clean as their battery-powered counterparts, the executive said.

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Walliser claims that the company’s synthetic fuel, to be called eFuel, can be used in any combustion engine and is scheduled to begin testing next year. The fuel is less complex than traditional gas (eight to 10 components compared to 30 to 40), allowing it to burn cleaner, with fewer particles and NOx. Because of this, the total carbon footprint of the vehicle will be equal to that of an EV.

“Synthetic fuel is cleaner and there are no by-products, and when we start full production we expect an 85 percent CO2 reduction,” Walliser told the publication. “From a ‘well to wheel’ perspective, and you have to consider the impact from well to wheel for all vehicles, this will be the same level of CO2 produced in the manufacture and use of an electric vehicle.”

Porsche is not the only premium carmaker exploring the potential of synthetic fuel. Last spring, McLaren Automotive COO Jens Ludmann said the British brand saw nascent technology as a valid alternative to electric transmissions. The executive also said that the brand intended to eventually build a prototype that would run on synthetic fuel.

Although it will take a lot of time and money to make synthetic fuel a reality, it’s easy to see why automakers like Porsche and McLaren are intrigued by its potential. Despite a shift toward electric vehicle production and promises by automakers to stop producing combustion engine vehicles altogether, only 3.2 million of the 64 million vehicles sold last year were electric vehicles. If development of the technology continues, it has the potential to offer another way to reduce hazardous emissions around the world.

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