By Ronan Glon
Saturday, Mar 10th, 2012 @ 9:00 am
 
Porsche purists have had a difficult couple of decades. They cried bloody murder when the company dropped a water-cooled engine in the 911 in 1997; they were upset again when Porsche launched the Cayenne, its first SUV; and they almost took to the streets when there was talk of a hybrid-powered 911 in 2010.

At the time, company CEO Michael Macht put the rumors to rest and declared that the German brand had absolutely no plans to fit a hybrid drivetrain in the 911, or in any of its sports cars, for that matter.

"It's technically possible but it's not part of the plan. It also adds weight," said Macht in an interview.

Fast forward to 2012 and things have changed quite a bit. Matthias Mueller has taken over Macht's spot as CEO, and the possibility of a hybrid 911 seems to be back on the table.

"If the environmental agencies ask us to change our sports cars in terms of powertrains, then we will do it," said Bernhard Maier, a Porsche board member, at a conference held at the Geneva Motor Show.

Maier is referring to upcoming regulations in both the United States and the European Union that will impose strict lineup-wide standards for gas mileage and CO2 emissions. Companies like Porsche that primarily build sports cars are expected to have a tough time complying with the regulations, which could ultimately result in heavy fines.

At the same conference in Geneva, Maier talked about the downsizing wave that the global auto industry is currently surfing. He said that regardless of regulations, a 911 powered by a four-cylinder engine was absolutely not part of the brand's forecast. However, the smaller Boxster and Cayman models could end up powered by four-bangers in the not-so-distant future in order to create more efficient models.