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Porsche To Offer Plug In Hybrid Version Of Panamera And 918 Spyder Next Year

BERLIN (Reuters) — Volkswagen AG is launching sales of more plug-in hybrid models to U.S. sports car lovers next year as the automaker plays catch-up with hybrid-vehicle champion Toyota Motor Corp.

VW expects growing demand for the fuel-saving technology and will target wealthy buyers with initial launches of plug-in hybrid versions of the Porsche Panamera S sedan and the 918 Spyder sports car, VW’s electric car chief Rudolf Krebs told Reuters.

The hybrid Panamera S went on sale in the U.S. in November 2011 and the 918 sports car will arrive in late 2013 or early 2014.

“Plug-in hybrids offer the best of the two worlds (of purely electric drives and combustion engines),” Krebs said. “This technology will soon be visible on the roads. That’s why we really want to get weaving.”

Europe’s biggest car maker is a late starter on electric powertrains after arguing for years that clean diesel is a better fuel-efficiency strategy than hybrids, which combine a combustion engine with battery-powered electric propulsion.

Toyota introduced the Prius hybrid compact vehicle in 1997, 13 years before VW’s Touareg hybrid SUV came to market in 2010, and started delivering a Prius plug-in version this year.

Faced with caps on carbon-dioxide emissions in core European markets and a drive by rivals for the most ecological powertrains, VW wants its share of the growing euphoria for plug-in hybrids that can travel longer distances on battery power than ordinary hybrids and can be recharged in public.

“This is a long-term trend that can no longer be reversed,” Krebs said, noting that VW will commit a “considerable” amount of over 7 billion euros ($9.13 billion) of annual spending on r&d to electric mobility.
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