Mark Webber has been driving Porsche's new Mission E
Porsche is developing its Mission E for a 2020 launch
The brand's first EV is expected to be revealed at the end of 2019…
…with a 330-mile range and 80% fast-charge time of just 15 minutes
The car will use new J1 underpinnings…
…that are being developed by the Volkswagen Group
The Mission E will have two electric motors that produce around 590bhp
A 0-62mph time of 3.5sec is expected
Porsche has been testing Mission E development cars for more than 18 months
Testing has included long stints at the Nürburgring
The Mission E's low centre of gravity will aid handling
It is also likely to enable a more compliant suspension set-up
The four-door will be set up to be more forgiving than the 911
But the car will, of course, still drive like a proper performance car
The Mission E concept offers a glimpse of the final model's design
Webber also announces that the car has "600hp", which equates to 592bhp, confirming speculation that its lithium ion battery pack-powered dual electric motor architecture will rank the Mission E second only to the 911 GT2 RS for power.
This output should give the car, which Webber admits is "heavier" than a standard Porsche due to its electric powertrain, a 0-62mph time of around three and a half seconds.
Although it's not due for reveal until 2019, ahead of arriving in showrooms in 2020, Porsche has already racked up thousands of test miles in mules that appear to be further advanced than regular cars at this stage of their development process.
With new so-called J1 architecture that will enable fast-charging to 80% in just 15 minutes, the Mission E will reach the market with one of the most high-tech powertrains used on an electric car yet. The brand's first EV will feature 800V charging technology that is intended to future-proof the car for several years after it hits the market.
The Mission E's four-seat interior suggests it will be more closely aligned, in terms of character, with the Panamera than pure sports cars such as the 911. But the Mission E's floor-mounted batteries should give it an extremely low centre of gravity to allow for hunkered-down handling that's comparable with more focused performance machines.
The central location of the batteries and twin-motor set-up will also give the car's technical architecture a better front-rear weight balance than combustion-engined cars, potentially allowing Porsche's engineers to soften the car's anti-roll bars to aid ride without hindering handling.
The most recently photographed test car was being towed by a Cayenne (breakdowns are common during early phases of testing). Some of the spotted cars have been wearing exhaust exit surrounds that were fake and fitted to conceal the car's identity. A panel of autonomous sensors has also been seen in the car's nose, nestled between what appear to be two sets of louvres in the lower grille. These can be opened to allow battery and brake cooling.
The development for the car is headed by Stefan Weckbach, who previously led product strategy and more recently was responsible for the development of the Boxster.
The future Tesla Model S rival's J1 structure is one of three new electric car platforms being developed within Porsche's parent company, the Volkswagen Group. The J1 structure is described as being different in construction to the C-BEV platform planned to underpin sister brand Audi’s forthcoming E-tron SUV, which is due for reveal later this year.
“The J1 has a low floor, while the C-BEV is constructed differently with a higher floor that suits an SUV,” said company chairman Oliver Blume.
Despite the differences in construction, Blume also confirmed that production versions of the Mission E and E-tron will feature similar lithium ion battery technology.
Details remain scarce, but Porsche is rumoured to be working with Japanese electronics company Hitachi on the system, which Blume describes as the key to providing the 15 minutes fast-charge capability.
Blume also confirmed that Porsche plans for the Mission E to have Level 4 autonomous driving technology (self-driving in nearly all situations, with driver attention not required), but denied that it would allow fully autonomous driving over longer distances. “There are situations in traffic jams where you will be able to read a newspaper, but our customers take pleasure from driving and this will remain,” he said.
Additionally, Porsche is working on providing the Mission E with software that will allow over-the-air updates such as those pioneered by Tesla with the Model S. “It will be possible to work with over-the-air options,” said Blume. “It isn’t decided yet, but it could be possible to charge up with more power. For example, when you have 400bhp, it could be possible to upgrade to 450bhp."
His comments suggest that Porsche is planning the Mission E as a line-up of models with differing performance levels similar to the strategy undertaken with its current 718 Boxster/Cayman, 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenne ranges. The brand is using the Mission E to spearhead its growing investment, which has totalled £5.3 billion for EV technology. Part of this money has helped to develop a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation 911.
Porsche revealed a more rugged version of the Mission E at the Geneva motor show. The Mission E Cross Turismo concept is based on the same platform but raises the ride height and adds an estate body. This version is expected to arrive on roads in 2021.