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Why the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid will be a success

For the 2015 model year, Porsche has ditched the outgoing Porsche Cayenne Hybrid in favor of a plug-in version. Here’s why it will do well.

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Along with the press release for the world premiere of the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid at the Paris Motor Show came a declaration that may have surprised some people: Porsche now offers more plug-in hybrids in its lineup than any other automaker.

Okay, so the 918 Spyder supercar is a bit of a niche vehicle, and other automakers are catching up fast with big plans for plug-in hybrids. But the Panamera S E-Hybrid has made up a solid percentage of overall Panamera sales, and the Cayenne S E-Hybrid may do even better when it hits the market.

An impressive spec sheet

As expected, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid packs some studly specifications. With the same powertrain as the Panamera plug-in, the electrified Cayenne boasts a total system output of 416 hp and a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds. A supercharged 3.0L V6 puts out 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, while the electric motor slotted between the engine and 8-speed transmission is capable of 95 hp and 229 lb-ft.

The Cayenne S E-Hybrid will be capable of a 78 mph top speed in electric mode. The 10.8-kWh battery pack will provide somewhere between 15 and 20 miles of EPA rated range.

Maybe the most important number: $76,400. For a luxury plug-in SUV with the Porsche badge and performance characteristics, that is a fair MSRP indeed – the non-hybrid Cayenne S starts at $74,100 before delivery fees.

Great expectations?

To get an idea of expectations for the Cayenne plug-in, it is a good idea to start with its Panamera S E-Hybrid relative.

Through the first eight months of 2014, Porsche had sold 16,698 Panameras worldwide. A total of 1,513 of those were the plug-in variant, accounting for a solid 9% model share. The ratio is even higher in the United States, where the Panamera S E-Hybrid holds a 16% model share this year.

For comparison, about 4% of Ford Fusions sold this year have been the Energi plug-in model.

Porsche sold 18,507 Cayennes in the U.S. in 2013. If demand remained steady (it has fallen slightly so far in 2014 in the last year of the current-generation Cayenne lineup) and the model share of the Panamera plug-in held for the Cayenne, the electrified SUV would tally nearly 3,000 sales annually in the United States alone.

Given that the Panamera S E-Hybrid starts at $96,100, the $76,400 Cayenne S E-Hybrid should experience strong sales for a high-end SUV, especially since the Cayenne lineup accounts for about half of all Porsche sales. Look for the Cayenne S E-Hybrid to be a hit here in SUV-happy America...and might it swipe some potential customers from the hyped Tesla Model X?

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