Porsche’s elec­tric mis­sion

Four-door sports car will set the per­for­mance stan­dard for all-elec­tric Porsches

Autocar - - THIS WEEK - MARK TIS­SHAW

Sporty EV com­ing in 2019

Porsche has con­ducted the first suc­cess­ful tests of full pro­to­type ver­sions of its new four-door elec­tric sports-car-cum-sa­loon, which is due in pro­duc­tion by the end of the decade.

The car, co­de­named J1, was closely pre­viewed as the Porsche Mis­sion E con­cept at the 2015 Frank­furt mo­tor show. It will be Porsche’s first be­spoke elec­tric car and launched as a fifth model line.

Although many other car mak­ers are choos­ing SUVS as their first elec­tric cars for pack­ag­ing rea­sons, Porsche has opted for a more low-slung model to show­case that its elec­tric car tech­nol­ogy is as much about per­for­mance as it is about re­duc­ing emis­sions.

Porsche R&D boss Michael Steiner con­firmed that de­sign work on the model is now com­plete and very close to the well-re­ceived Mis­sion E con­cept. De­vel­op­ment mules have com­pleted test­ing and Porsche has be­gun tests of full-body pro­to­type ver­sions of the pro­duc­tion car.

The fin­ished prod­uct will be re­vealed in 2019, with first de­liv­er­ies in 2020, and priced at ap­prox­i­mately £100,000. That pitches the car in be­tween the Panam­era 4 E-hy­brid (£81,141) and Panam­era Turbo S E-hy­brid (£137,140).

The Mis­sion E has yet to be given an of­fi­cial name for pro­duc­tion but it will not take the name of the con­cept car, ac­cord­ing to Porsche boss Oliver Blume. It is pitched as half­way be­tween a 911 and a Panam­era in con­cept. In­deed, Porsche in­sid­ers re­fer to it as a “four-door sports car”, with Porsche keen to use elec­tric tech­nol­ogy on a com­pletely new type of model to bring the brand to more cus­tomers.

Steiner said the brief is “a re­ally sporty sports car, a four-seater that’s low on the road, with a low cen­tre of grav­ity. A car that’s typ­i­cally Porsche but elec­tric.”

The Mis­sion E is the first step to­wards Porsche elec­tri­fy­ing its en­tire range as part of a Volk­swa­gen Group tar­get of 2030 to have an elec­tri­fied ver­sion of ev­ery model of­fered.

Porsche has no plans to cre­ate an elec­tric ver­sion of the 911 be­cause the only way to store enough bat­ter­ies for a vi­able range would be in the floor. That would mean hav­ing to raise the ve­hi­cle, ren­der­ing it no longer a sports car in the firm’s eyes.

How­ever, the nextgen­er­a­tion 911, tar­geted for launch in 2018, is be­ing read­ied with the avail­abil­ity of plug-in hy­brid tech­nol­ogy. But, although it is com­pat­i­ble with plug-in hy­brid tech, Porsche has yet to de­cide when to of­fer a plug-in hy­brid 911 to mar­ket, if at all. The Mis­sion E’s launch is likely to come first.

Steiner said the more an elec­tric car has to per­form as a sports car, the more weight comes into the equa­tion. “The Mis­sion E is the sweet spot

The brief for the Mis­sion E is a car that’s typ­i­cally Porsche but elec­tric

of sports car per­for­mance that size-wise pro­vides enough space for sig­nif­i­cant bat­tery pack­ages,” he said.

The J1’s ar­chi­tec­ture is a be­spoke Porsche de­vel­op­ment and dif­fers from other elec­tric plat­forms be­ing en­gi­neered within the VW Group. Audi is de­vel­op­ing an ar­chi­tec­ture called C-BEV, to be used first on its e-tron SUV next year. The J1 has its bat­ter­ies much lower in the floor, with the C-BEV bet­ter suited to higher-rid­ing SUVS. The two ar­chi­tec­tures use com­mon lithium ion bat­tery

tech­nol­ogy, though.

The J1 ar­chi­tec­ture is also set to un­der­pin Bent­ley’s first elec­tric model at the turn of the decade, us­ing the Speed 6e con­cept as in­spi­ra­tion in style, if not in size. The Speed 6e is a shorter, two-door sports car.

As a four-door and a pure, ded­i­cated elec­tric car with no re­quire­ments for a com­bus­tion-engine ver­sion, the Mis­sion E doesn’t suf­fer any of the pack­ag­ing prob­lems that Porsche would get from con­vert­ing an ex­ist­ing model to be purely elec­tric pow­ered.

The con­cept car used two elec­tric mo­tors – one on each axle – to pro­duce a com­bined 600bhp and 663lb ft, draw­ing their power from lithium ion bat­ter­ies mounted in the floor. The con­cept car was all-wheel drive, with the front wheels driven mainly to aid the ac­cel­er­a­tion, and the han­dling re­main­ing rear bi­ased, and us­ing torque vec­tor­ing to con­trol in­di­vid­ual wheels.

The 0-62mph time was quoted at 3.5sec and 0-124mph at less than 12.0sec, de­spite the con­cept’s kerb weight of more than 2000kg.

Porsche’s elec­tric tech is be­ing de­vel­oped in-house due to the spe­cific need for an elec­tric Porsche to fo­cus on per­for­mance above all else. Its Zuf­fen­hausen en­gi­neer­ing cen­tre is be­ing ex­panded to sup­port the new model and Porsche plans to sell around 20,000 Mis­sion Es a year when pro­duc­tion is ramped up.

The firm will of­fer the Mis­sion E with a range of power out­puts and chas­sis set-ups. “We will of­fer dif­fer­ent lev­els of per­for­mance,” said Blume. “There will be sporty, high­per­for­mance ver­sions and a lower-pow­ered one.”

Porsche plans to equip it with state-of-the-art elec­tron­ics that per­mit over­the-air up­dates to key sys­tems such as the driv­e­line and au­ton­o­mous driv­ing func­tions. This means power out­puts could be in­creased re­motely.

The car will also be fit­ted with an 800V rapid-charg­ing sys­tem, which will recharge 80% of the bat­tery ca­pac­ity in just 15min. Porsche is un­der­stood to be work­ing with Hi­tachi on the tech­nol­ogy and is al­ready tri­alling it with the fit­ment of two 800V DC fast-

It will be of­fered with a range of power out­puts and chas­sis set-ups

charg­ers at re­cently opened of­fices in Ber­lin.

Porsche will not look to give the Mis­sion E an overly ex­ces­sive range be­cause the recharg­ing time is so favourable. So long as the Mis­sion E hits its 500km (310 miles) tar­get, Steiner said, that will be suf­fi­cient.

Ad­ding more range means more bat­tery packs, which in­creases the weight. Steiner said a slight loss in range would be com­pen­sated by faster charg­ing times and Porsche is work­ing with cus­tomers to de­cide ex­actly what the op­ti­mum range should be.

“For peo­ple who don’t need a big daily driv­ing range but do need an oc­ca­sional longer range, how much is the cost of sac­ri­fic­ing some range for charg­ing time?” said Steiner.

Fur­ther ahead, Porsche is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the use of solid-state bat­ter­ies, which are lighter and more com­pact than lithium ion cells, as a pos­si­ble fu­ture tech­nol­ogy for an all-elec­tric sports car, but pro­duc­tion ver­sions are sev­eral years away. It has tested the tech in a pro­to­type Boxster, which han­dled well, but the weight im­pacted its lap time.

On the car’s styling, Porsche de­sign boss Michael Mauer has de­scribed the pro­duc­tion Mis­sion E as “a beau­ti­ful car”.

Speak­ing more gen­er­ally about elec­tric cars, he said they gave de­sign­ers “lots of pos­si­bil­i­ties”. He added: “So far, elec­tric com­po­nents are still pretty big. You get rid of the metal block of the engine but have to pack­age bat­ter­ies. Re­place one with an­other. In the end, there will be more free­dom for de­sign­ers as the huge metal block dis­ap­pears and bat­ter­ies get smaller.”

Porsche’s next elec­tric car af­ter the Mis­sion E is set to be an SUV, a car Steiner said will have “ben­e­fits for Porsche as there’s still a trend for SUVS”.

He added: “We made a clear strat­egy on elec­tric cars to start with cars very close to the core of the brand. We will have a re­ally sporty car be­tween 911 and Panam­era. It’s very well known that the SUV seg­ment is grow­ing faster but we didn’t want a ‘me too’ con­cept but a true Porsche con­cept. We’re con­vinced it [Mis­sion E] will make its way in the mar­ket.”

Pro­to­types with full pro­duc­tion bod­ies have now started test­ing

Much of the de­sign of the 2015 con­cept (above) has been re­tained Pro­duc­tion ver­sion will sit be­tween the 911 and Panam­era

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