A Porsche engineer has stated at an Australian press conference that Porsche is not averse to using four-cylinder engines, should the need arise. Thomas Krickelberg, Porsche's head of powertrain development, revealed that the six-cylinder engines found in the 911 had been designed so that they could have the number of their cylinders reduced if there was a "strong need to do it".
Addressing motoring press attending an Australian launch of the Porsche 911, Krickelberg cited "global warming and the need to reduce fuel consumption" as being the most likely motivating factors in any decision to reduce the number of cylinders in the famous Porsche flat-six.
Krickelberg noted that reducing the number of cylinders would be relatively easy, as the engine was designed to be versatile. He also commented on the necessity to produce socially responsible cars, as well as impending CO2-limiting legislation that could force Porsche to drastically change their current approach to engine technology. Already the German manufacturer is developing a hybrid Porsche Cayenne to placate customers who want to be seen as more socially responsible.
Porsche's legendary flat-six has provided the powerplant for several generations of the 911, but even Porsche may be forced to abandon its trademark engine in response to global events. A flat-four or four-cylinder boxer engine has been used successfully by Subaru in its Impreza and WRX among other vehicles. The WRX also uses a turbocharger to boost power. Presumably, Porsche could also follow this route, if the need arose, to reduce the number of cylinders in its cars but maintain similar power levels.