Going green is about far more than just building some electric cars and hoping consumers will shift to some weird Ed Begley, Jr. ascetic lifestyle. Carbon neutrality is the name of the game, and while that might seem like a tall order for an automaker, which needs to work with countless partners to create the vehicles it sells, Porsche is trying its best to make it a reality by the end of the decade.
Porsche aims for a CO2-neutral balance sheet in 2030, the automaker announced this week. “I think it’s a very ambitious target, and we’re one of the first automakers to go in this direction,” Oliver Blume, Porsche’s board chairman, said in an interview ahead of the automaker’s annual press conference. “We think it matches perfectly to our brand.” The scope of this push might be wider than you think, too; Porsche intends for this neutrality to apply from the cradle to the grave, across the entire supply chain required to build the car and the life it lives with its new owner after leaving the dealership.
Quite the mountain to climb, no? Well, Porsche’s already making strides in certain aspects. According to the automaker, its German production facilities on both Zuffenhausen and Leipzig have already reached CO2 neutrality by way of renewable energy and biogas, which is a type of fuel made from organic waste. Its upcoming Taycan Cross Turismo, a lifted wagon variant of the Taycan electric sports car, will be the automaker’s first carbon-neutral vehicle, too, according to Porsche.
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But Porsche itself is just one part of the vast equation required to build cars. Porsche gets what it needs from its network of suppliers; in order for true balance sheet carbon neutrality to happen, every party needs to participate, and Porsche’s willing to help. “We set very clear targets for [CO2] reduction, but we don’t leave our partners alone,” Blume said, stressing that Porsche will support its partners with its know-how when it comes to reducing carbon footprints.
But, at the same time, suppliers that don’t want to take those steps won’t be sticking around to reap the benefits. “Only suppliers who fill our sustainable goals will be worked with,” Blume said in the interview. “We are very strict on this, and it’s very important to reduce [CO2 emissions across] the whole supply chain.”
Now, you may notice that I’ve referred to “balance sheet carbon neutrality” a couple of times. That doesn’t mean the paper it’s written on has to be produced from recycled scraps; rather, again, it’s about having that carbon neutrality stretch from the beginning of the car’s life all the way to its eventual end. It’s not feasible to have every single aspect of car creation be completely carbon-neutral, and there will always be some processes that expel emissions that can possibly affect the climate.
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However, that’s where offsets come in; in order to balance out emissions in one area, Porsche may compensate in others, such as investing in wind turbines and solar energy — something the OEM is already doing. But compensating for too many processes may seem like a cop-out, and it appears Blume agrees. “Our direction is, first of all, to avoid CO2, then to reduce, and only the smallest part will involve compensation,” Blume said. He did not delve into the specifics of compensation, whether it involves more wind farms or selling CO2 credits, but it’s good to see that CO2 avoidance and reduction are a higher priority than just slapping some solar panels over a parking lot and calling it a day.
Porsche aims to have electrified vehicles cover approximately 80% of its sales within that same targeted time frame. The automaker is off to a strong start with its first proper BEV outing, the Taycan, which will be followed by its Cross Turismo variant later this year. Following that, Porsche will electrify its bread-and-butter Macan compact crossover, which we believe will happen in 2022 according to current targets.