It's not a simple matter of replacing traditional components with new ones.
Porsche is clearly embracing an electric future – at least as much as any other automaker. But one model it's proven very hesitant to electrify is the 911. And the reasons are more esoteric than it would be with other models.
Transitioning any sports car or performance model from internal combustion to electric propulsion is an inherently risky endeavor, even as EVs pack a bigger punch with each increment of technological advancement. But as Jalopnik points out, the 911's character is tied intrinsically to the layout of its powertrain: a boxer six mounted over the rear axle.
Messing with that formula has historically been met with skepticism from the 911's puristic and outspoken fan and customer base. Like when it switched from air cooling to water, or when the lineup went primarily turbocharged.
"If you will ask our fans and passionate customers especially in the United States about having a 911 electric, you can imagine the reaction we will have," Porsche exec Detlev von Platen told Jalopnik. "We have this reaction all the time when we touch the 911. When we touch the sound...that's normal. I think that's a good sign."
Electric powertrains offer automakers more configuration flexibility than internal-combustion engines. The batteries can be mounted low in the floor, and the motors can be pushed out near the wheels. But while that may be ideal for some models, going that route could compromise the essential character for which the rear-engined 911 is known.
So while Porsche will offer a wide array of Taycan variants, plug-in hybrid versions of models like the Panamera and Cayenne, and even fully electric versions of the Macan and 718, it's holding the 911's character as true to form as expected.
"I think today and for the next few years to come, we don't have the question. We clearly see the 911 concept, the 911 idea, being a six cylinder boxer engine without any kind of electrification with the very typical sound of the 911."
As sure as death and taxes, the day will come when Porsche will electrify its most iconic model. But it may prove ultimately to be more up to the customers to demand it than it will be for the automaker to develop and produce it.