AMG Wants to Attack Porsche Head-On—By Going Electric

A new report says Mercedes’s performance division wants to take sales to Porsche levels by going all-in on EVs and plug-in hybrids.

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To paraphrase an old ad campaign: AMG, you’ve come a long way, baby. Once a semi-independent tuning shop that specialized in making Mercedes-Benz’s cars more powerful, ever since being integrated into Daimler, the abbreviated German group has become a cornerstone of the carmaker’s automotive lineup, offering high-performance versions of nearly every car and SUV the company sells.

But you don’t succeed in business by thinking small or looking back. And the next stage of AMG’s life, it seems, may involve doubling the group’s sales by taking the fight straight to Mercedes’s crosstown rival Porsche — and diving into the world of electric and electrified powertrains.

That’s the word from Ola Källenius, the new man in charge of Daimler AG and former fellow at the helm of AMG. According to an interview with German business publication Manager Magazin and surfaced by the website Electrive, Källenius plans to pivot the performance sub-brand known for burbling V8s over towards electric motors in the near future as part of a soon-to-be-presented plan reportedly described internally as “Electric First.”

Going electric, as it turns out, isn’t just good PR for AMG; it’s also largely needed in order to enable a planned Porsche-fighting expansion that seeks to double the sub-brand’s annual sales to around 250,000 units — roughly the same number as the company that builds the Cayenne and 911. Right now, most AMG models spew out twice as much carbon dioxide as new European Union limits call for, dragging down Daimler’s corporate average; without cleaning up what comes out of those tailpipes (or eliminating said pipes altogether), boosting sales would be nigh-on impossible.

Shifting towards electric drivetrains, of course, is exactly what Porsche is looking to do over the next decade or so. The carmaker’s new Taycan sport sedan models have proven the brand’s fabled sportiness transfers over nicely to EVs; future product cycles will see the 911 gain a hybrid variant and the Macan crossover convert to pure electric drive, with the 718 Boxster/Cayman possibly following close behind. Between those cars and the existing Panamera and Cayenne plug-in hybrids, it’s possible that every new Porsche on sale a decade from now will have a charging port.

Of course, that won’t mean the end of the roaring internal combustion engines we’ve come to know and love in AMG models; they’ll likely stick around for some time connected to electric motors. The first proof of this can be seen in the company’s 53 models, which use a turbocharged inline-six mated to a mild hybrid system; the next AMG C63, in addition, may trade its rip-roaring V8 for a heavily-hybridized turbo-four.

The real evidence of the move, however, should come with the next wave of plug-in hybrid models, starting with a version of the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door that merges the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with batteries and electric motors to create a range-topping model that offers segment-leading performance. If that sounds familiar, it should: that’s exactly what Porsche did with the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid.

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