Porsche Mission E
The electric Mission E was first shown in 2015, and earlier this year a utility version – the Mission E Cross Turismo – was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. The sedan goes into production later next year, and the SUV will follow. They’ll be built in a new facility being constructed within the Zuffenhausen plant, which currently builds the 911, Boxster and Cayman.
You can already buy plug-in hybrid versions of Porsche cars.
You can currently buy plug-in hybrid versions of the Panamera and Cayenne. But these upcoming vehicles will be the company’s first vehicle to run solely on battery power. The Mission E sedan – the actual name will be revealed closer to launch – is smaller than the Panamera and with low-slung, 911-style seating but for four people. It’s expected to be priced similarly to the Panamera, which runs from $97,300 to $182,700. The plug-in Panamera is $113,400. Its new platform isn’t shared with anything else in the current Porsche lineup, but will be used by Audi for its upcoming E-Tron GT sedan and E-Tron Quattro SUV.
The automaker says it isn’t really looking at the competition, but I’m skeptical. It is all about satisfying tightening fuel emissions standards around the globe, but still, Tesla proved that people will pay premium prices for a battery-powered car. Meanwhile, Polestar, a new division from Volvo, is planning its line of upscale electrics.
The Mission E will have two permanent magnet synchronous motors, or PSMs – one on each axle. These high-performance units will combine for 600 horsepower, clicking off zero to 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds. They’re designed to cool quickly and owners should be able to thrash the car without any issues. The all-wheel-drive system includes torque vectoring, while the active suspension is borrowed from the 911. The battery is under the floor to lower the centre of gravity.
Range is forecast at 500 kilometres on a charge, but the big news is that the Mission E charges at 800 volts. That’s twice as much as most electric vehicles, providing faster charging times and using thinner power cables that reduce weight. Porsche estimates 400 kilometres in just 15 minutes of fast-charging, but it’ll require a specialized charging station. Plans are underway to create a network along Germany’s highways, and in metropolitan areas in North America. It’ll also charge at a conventional station – taking longer, of course. Once you install a conduction coil in your garage floor, the car will charge wirelessly when you park over it.
Electricity is the future.
Electricity is only part of where this is all going. Porsche plans some form of autonomous driving, but says it’ll never take out the pedals or the steering wheel. Instead, any self-driving features will be primarily intended for bumper-to-bumper traffic, with the driver taking over once the road opens up.
“The automobile will become the ultimate mobile device,” said Thilo Koslowski, its CEO. “Streets will talk to cars, telling them about a closure up ahead. A parking garage might tell your car that it’s pricier than another, but it’s closer and it has an open spot. Office buildings might coordinate groups of people all leaving at once. And this will happen in three to four years.”
Koslowski brings that approach to the new subsidiary. He speaks of algorithms becoming the new engines, data the new fuel. If that sounds a bit too new-age, he’s also realistic about how far he can take it. Many customers want an entirely connected experience, such as suggestions for restaurants and then the route to get there, but the car can’t become a mobile advertisement for whatever’s nearby.
“We’re working on over-the-air software to update the vehicle’s technologies” Koslowski said. “But we also know hacking happens. There must be separation of the vital data from those that are not driving-critical. It’s crucial to an automaker to understand digital technology. It becomes a value proposition. Some technologies will put the price up, but we can’t price ourselves out of the market just so the cars can do these things.”
Retail will also change. The company has designed a live-streaming system that lets a salesperson move around the vehicle with a camera as a customer watches remotely on a device. It’s one-way: the customer can hear what’s going on, but isn’t visible to the salesperson. It launched globally at a Porsche dealer in Ontario and is being rolled out to others.
“If a local dealer doesn’t have the car the customer wants, he can see it at another with this,” Koslowski said. “We’re looking at changing the retail experience as well.”