Why the absence of a characterful combustion engine will not threaten Porsche’s identity
THERE’S nothing like a day spent piloting a selection of Porsche’s finest cars round the German countryside (see page 52) to remind you of the impressive development path this brand has forged in the evolution of the combustion engine. It also serves as stark reminder of just how much each Porsche’s soul and character is entwined with the workings of its petrol-powered drivetrain. It might come as a surprise, then, to find the German carmaker at the forefront of EV development as it surges towards a future without combustion-based wares.
While fans of cars such as the GT3 and GT2 RS will be relieved to learn that, for the foreseeable future, Porsche remains committed to further developing combustion engines, based on models such as the Panamera Turbo S E-hybrid – and with fresh memories of the brand’s recent hybrid-powered dominance on racetracks – it’s safe to assume Porsche also has a good idea of what’s needed in terms of future mobility.
Officially known as the Taycan, the Mission E concept represents the third of four arms (combustion, hybrid, electric and lifestyle) that make up Porsche’s Strategy 2025. With the first customer models set for delivery by the end of 2019, production of the Taycan is currently being integrated into the brand’s Zuffenhausen facility in Stuttgart. Together with a brand-new paint shop, innovative conveyor-belt system and new final-assembly facility, Porsche’s first all-electric car will be produced by 1 200 new employees on the same grounds as the brand’s hallowed 911.
So committed to Porsche’s ethos and the drive to maintain the brand’s impressive levels of success and profitability is Zuffenhausen’s entire workforce, that it has agreed to donate a percentage of its annual wage increase towards the development of future EV mod-
clockwise from left Officially named Taycan, the first all-electric Porsche will feature an operating range of more than 500 km; its 800 V architecture will allow it to charge to 80% within 20 minutes; production model will include seating for five. els. This deal sees each worker reimbursed accordingly by 2025, 10 years after the Mission E project was given the green light for production.
Not overly concerned with what the likes of Tesla is touting, head of BEV (battery electric vehicles), Stefan Weckbach, insists the Taycan will be a true Porsche in every sense of the word. This includes a claimed sub-3,5 second 0-100 km/h sprint time while remaining ruthlessly efficient (something Stefan believes the hyper-fast Tesla will not be able to replicate), as well as offering levels of everyday usability Porsche customers have come to expect. In the Taycan’s case, this will include seating for five adults, as well as luggage space spread across two storage areas. Critically, the Taycan will offer an operating range of more than 500 km between charges and, thanks to its 800 V architecture, be able to recharge its batteries to offer a 100 km range within four minutes and 400 km in 20 minutes.
Porsche also doesn’t believe any of its Taycan customers will ever crave either full autonomous driving or, indeed, the gimmick of having a fake exhaust note piped into the cabin via the car’s audio system. While a more convincing
solution to an EV’S obvious lack of aural drama is still in the works, Porsche’s Digital Gmbh division has been working extensively at pioneering driver-assistance systems focused on more pressing issues such as congestion avoidance and sourcing available parking spaces at the car’s preselected final destination.
Forecasting that about 25% of vehicles in developed markets will be fully electrical by 2025, Porsche believes as many as one in every four of its cars will do without a combustion engine by this same time frame. Looking ahead to the infrastructure requirements of such a scenario, Porsche is investing €6 billion into the IONITY initiative that sees BMW, Daimler, Ford and the Volkswagen Group (which, as you know, owns Porsche) collaborating to realise 400 non-brand-specific fast-charging stations across Europe by 2022. This agreement will include technologies such as cable-free charging facilities built into busy intersections and parking areas.
Working together with fellow VW AG member Audi, Porsche has committed a team of 300 engineers (alongside 550 from Audi) to its Premium Platform Electric (PPE) programme that will realise the introduction of three new model families by 2021 (two from Audi and one from Porsche).
Acknowledging, too, the impressive rate of success Rimac Automobili has had in developing high-voltage batteries and electric powertrains (along with creating two supercars in the Concept One and C_two), Porsche recently purchased a 10% stake in the Croatian-based firm.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
While Porsche admits it’s not inconceivable that an all-electric 911 might be on the market by 2030, the brand’s immediate future will rely heavily on evolutions of all three of its current means of propulsion: combustion, hybrid and electric. That said, the reveal of the Mission E Cross Turismo at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show also hinted
clockwise from left High-quality interior set to rely heavily on modern touchscreen tech; smartphone apps will suggest nearest charging stations; Cross Turismo concept hints at a new all-electric lifestyle-based offering. at its desire to grow its lifestylebased product portfolio.
If we’ve learnt anything from Porsche’s previous departures from its traditional sportscar formula, including the first generations of the Cayenne SUV and four-door Panamera, it’s that, no matter the styling, packaging or drivetrain layout, at the heart of every Porsche lies the brand’s unwavering commitment towards driving enjoyment.
Porsche admits it is not inconceivable that an all-electric 911 might be on the market by 2030