Are battery-electric vehicles truly the future of the auto industry? It sure seems like it right now, but no one knows what tomorrow holds if the last three years are any indication. Automakers are making big bets with batteries but are also exploring other alternative technologies. Porsche has invested in synthetic fuels, and those endeavors are making progress.
The automaker has announced that it has started producing synthetic fuels at its plant in Chile. Porsche celebrated the achievement by filling up a 911 with the first drops developed.
Gallery: Porsche Starts Synthetic Fuel Production
The eFuel is made from water and carbon dioxide using wind energy, which is one reason the facility is located in Punta Arenas. Southern Chile is windy, with breezes blowing around 270 days a year, allowing wind turbines to operate at full capacity. It's also located near the Straight of Magellan, making it convenient to ship the fuel worldwide.
The plant's pilot phase will produce around 130,000 liters of eFuel per year or 34,342 gallons. That's not enough to even whet America's insatiable taste for gasoline – we used 134.83 billion gallons of the stuff in 2021 alone, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
However, there are plans to ramp up eFuel production by the middle of the decade, producing up to a projected 55 million liters per year. The company expects its capacity to increase to 550 million liters two years later. That's 145 million gallons, and a drop in the bucket of fuel consumption, but it’s also a start.
While eFuels will help Porsche achieve its goal of carbon neutrality, which it wants to reach by 2030, it will also have other benefits. Synthetic fuels could help power the more than 1.3 billion cars with internal combustion engines that will be on the road for decades.
Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Development and Research at Porsche, said that eFuels will "offer the owners of existing cars a nearly carbon-neutral alternative." And it will help the automaker keep its ICE cars, old and new, on the road.
Synthetic fuels and alternatives to BEVs aren't new. Audi tested synthetic diesel back in 2010, and automakers are still investing in and developing hydrogen-powered vehicles. A likely scenario is a future where multiple technologies power how we get around, with BEVs, hydrogen, and eFuel all available for different applications.