Saying fuel-saving hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) technology “will be the direction” for the U.S. market, Peter Schwarzenbauer, president and CEO, Porsche Cars North America Inc., says Porsche is seriously considering an HEV model for North America.

“If you are a responsible manufacturer, you have to look into this,” Schwarzenbauer says, adding that Porsche formed a team in 2004 to study how and when Porsche might implement HEV technology.

He says Porsche's Cayenne cross/utility vehicle is the “definite” candidate for hybridization, aligning with earlier reports that Porsche was in talks with HEV technology leader Toyota Motor Corp. about an HEV system for the Cayenne.

“I think we should be open to talk to everyone” about partnering for HEV technology, says Schwarzenbauer. “We would be stupid not to consider this technology,” for the U.S.

He says hybrids are emerging as the winning technology for better fuel efficiency. This despite the fact OEMs in Europe, Porsche's home, continue to look down on HEVs, saying new-generation diesels are better and less costly.

Schwarzenbauer, who took over Porsche's top job in North America in March 2003, says Porsche's U.S. unit is well-represented on the team studying HEV implementation, but there is not yet a timeline for when the auto maker might produce a hybrid-powered Porsche.

He says any Porsche HEV obviously would stress the performance-enhancing potential of hybrid technology, much the same way Toyota's Lexus plans for its first hybrid SUV, the RX 400h coming this spring.