Elec­tri­fy­ing the Fu­ture

As Porsche grows its fleet of elec­tric ve­hi­cles in re­sponse to ris­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, it shows no in­ten­tion of los­ing its per­for­mance roots, dis­cov­ers Chong Seow Wei

Singapore Tatler - - LIFE -

By 2025, around half of the new Porsche cars sold will be elec­tri­cally-pow­ered mod­els, said Arthur Will­mann, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Porsche Asia Pa­cific. This vi­sion is in line with the mar­que’s global plans an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary last year. Porsche plans to in­vest more than ¤6b in elec­tro­mo­bil­ity by 2022, with a fo­cus on plug-in hy­brid and fully elec­tric cars. The mar­que’s push for elec­tric ve­hi­cles is in re­sponse to cli­mate change, which has be­come a grow­ing global con­cern in re­cent years. Ac­cord­ing to the Green­house Gas Bul­letin pub­lished by the United Na­tions’ World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2018, the amount of car­bon diox­ide trapped in the at­mos­phere reached a new record high in 2017. Car­bon diox­ide emis­sion from cars is one of the main cul­prits of global warm­ing. With its new strat­egy, Porsche is com­mit­ted to com­bat­ing cli­mate change and meet­ing gov­ern­ment-im­posed emis­sion reg­u­la­tions. While Porsche’s elec­tri­fi­ca­tion mis­sion sounds am­bi­tious, it isn’t at all far-fetched for a mar­que that is known to push its own lim­its. In fact, Porsche isn’t new to the elec­tric game. Over a cen­tury ago, founder Fer­di­nand Porsche de­vel­oped the Lohner-porsche Sem­per Vivus, the world’s first fully-func­tion­ing hy­brid car. The hefty sin­gle-seat ride was pow­ered by two gen­er­a­tors, which were con­nected to petrol en­gines, form­ing a charg­ing unit. Fast for­ward to 2010, Porsche reignited its elec­tric dreams and in­jected its mod­ern hy­brid tech­nol­ogy into its mo­tor­sport rac­ing cars. This re­sulted in the 911 GT3 R Hy­brid, which had two elec­tric mo­tors and a 4.0L flat-six petrol en­gine. Then came the 919 Hy­brid pro­to­type racer in 2014, which won the mar­que three 24 Hours of Le Mans tro­phies be­tween 2015 and 2017. The car later evolved

into the 919 Hy­brid Evo, which was re­leased in April last year and is said to be faster than a For­mula One car. For Porsche, the race­track is where it tests its tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments be­fore in­tro­duc­ing them in its road-go­ing cars. “We be­lieve in trans­fer­ring the tech­nol­ogy of our race­track cars to our road cars, so the track is where our tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions first see the light of day,” ex­plained Thomas Neu­mann, the brand’s man­ager for elec­tri­cal and elec­tronic en­gi­neer­ing e-mo­bil­ity. El­e­ments of the 919 Hy­brid’s driv­ing tech­nol­ogy, for in­stance, have made their way into the Cayenne E-hy­brid and Panam­era 4 E-hy­brid. Last Oc­to­ber, we had the op­por­tu­nity to drive both cars and sev­eral of its sib­lings at the Porsche E-per­for­mance Nights, the re­gion’s first night race­track event held at the Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit in Kuala Lumpur. We hit the rain-soaked tar­mac in a se­lec­tion of the mar­que’s lat­est plug-in hy­brid mod­els in­clud­ing the 462hp Panam­era 4 E-hy­brid and 680hp Panam­era Turbo S E-hy­brid, both of which pow­ered through bends with con­fi­dence and emerged onto the straight with in­cred­i­ble speed. We also got a good sense of the new 3.0L bi-turbo V6 Cayenne E-hy­brid’s im­proved agility and sta­bil­ity as we took it through a slalom course. Then, there was the 918 Spy­der. The plug-in hy­brid coupe was heard be­fore it could be seen, with its power and han­dling be­fit­ting of its hy­per­car sta­tus. Rac­ing hel­met on, we hopped into the pas­sen­ger seat with a pro­fes­sional race car driver at the wheel, and off we went as the car emit­ted a spine-tin­gling roar, charg­ing to­wards the first bend like a chee­tah on a mis­sion. The wheels shrieked with joy as it made a turn, be­fore the thrilling sound­track of the en­gine was heard again as the car tore down the next straight, hit­ting 225km/h at one point. If this per­for­mance was any­thing to go by, we are ex­cited for what else is to come in Porsche’s elec­tric fu­ture. And we won’t have to wait long—the mar­que will launch the Tay­can, its first fully elec­tric car, in 2019. The four-door car will sit be­tween the 911 and Panam­era in terms of size, and is just below the Panam­era in terms of price. It will also fea­ture two syn­chro­nous mo­tors, just like the 919 Hy­brid, and will match up to its petrol-en­gined pre­de­ces­sors with its own unique sound­track. “The Tay­can will not be a quiet Porsche,” re­as­sured the mar­que’s e-mo­bil­ity PR man­ager, Mayk Wienkoet­ter. “It will have a dis­tinct sound be­cause it will abide by the Porsche phi­los­o­phy of be­ing fast, fu­tur­is­tic and emo­tional.”

SPEED MON­STERS The most pow­er­ful Panam­era E-hy­brid vari­ant is the Turbo S E-hy­brid, which has a 136hp elec­tric mo­tor and 550hp V8 turbo petrol en­gine; the 918 Spy­der (op­po­site) plug-in hy­brid hy­per­car hits 200km/h in just 7.7sec

THE NEXT FRON­TIER The name of Porsche’s first all-elec­tric car, the Tay­can, is a port­man­teau of two terms of Tur­kic ori­gin and is roughly trans­lated as the “soul of a spir­ited young horse”

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