Why the ab­sence of a char­ac­ter­ful com­bus­tion en­gine will not threaten Porsche’s iden­tity

Car (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY: Ian Mclaren Ian­m_­car­mag

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.


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

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