The first tests of Porsche's first electric car are complete; the four-door sports car will be Porsche's fifth model line
Mark Tisshaw
5 January 2018

Porsche engineers have been using the freezing climates of the Arctic Circle to test the cold-weather range of the brand's first all-electric model, the Mission E.

Photographed being towed and charged by a Cayenne, presumably because it ran out of energy during a longevity test, the four-door electric sports car is being developed to offer a 310-mile range.

Logistics and production boss Albrecht Reimold revealed late last year that several variants of the model are due, each offering differing levels of performance to increase its market reach.

Reimold announced his confidence in the Mission E's success amid strong sales for the Panamera E-Hybrid, which accounts for 60% of overall Panamera sales worldwide. In Scandinavia, the electrified variant represents up to 90% of Panamera sales, emphasising the changing demand, particularly in regions where governmental incentives have been introduced.

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The car, codenamed J1, was closely previewed as the Mission E concept at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. It will be Porsche’s first bespoke electric car and the start of a fifth model line.

Although many other car makers are choosing SUVs as their first electric cars for packaging reasons, Porsche has opted for a more low-slung model to show that its electric technology is as much about performance as it is about reducing emissions.

Porsche R&D boss Michael Steiner confirmed that design work on the model is now complete and very close to the well-received concept. Development cars have completed testing and Porsche has been testing full-body prototype versions of the production car for several months.

The finished product will be revealed in 2019, with first deliveries in 2020, priced at approximately £100,000. That puts it between the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid (£81,141) and Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid (£137,140).

The Mission E has yet to be given an official name for production, but it will not take the name of the concept, according to Porsche boss Oliver Blume. It is pitched as halfway between a 911 and a Panamera in concept. Indeed, Porsche insiders refer to it as a “four-door sports car”, with Porsche keen to use electric technology on a completely new type of model to bring the brand to more people.

Steiner said the brief is “a really sporty sports car, a four-seater that’s low on the road, with a low centre of gravity. A car that’s typically Porsche, but electric”.

The Mission E is Porsche's first step towards electrifying its entire range as part of a Volkswagen Group target of having an electrified version of every model by 2030.

Porsche has no plans to create an electric version of the 911. The only way to store enough batteries for a viable range would be in the floor, and that would mean raising the vehicle, rendering it no longer a sports car in the company’s eyes.

However, the next-generation 911, targeted for launch in 2019, is being developed with the availability of plug-in hybrid technology. That said, Porsche has yet to decide when to offer a plug-in hybrid 911 to market, if at all. Even if it does, the Mission E’s launch is likely to come first.

Steiner said the more an electric car has to perform as a sports car, the more weight comes into the equation. “The Mission E is the sweet spot of sports car performance that, size-wise, provides enough space for significant battery packages,” he said.

The J1’s architecture is a bespoke Porsche development and differs from other electric platforms being engineered within the VW Group. Audi is developing an architecture called C-BEV to be used first on its E-tron SUV next year. The J1 has its batteries much lower in the floor, while the C-BEV is better-suited to higher-riding SUVs. The two architectures use common lithium ion battery technology, though.

The J1 architecture is also set to underpin Bentley’s first electric model at the turn of the decade, using the Speed 6e concept as inspiration in style, if not in size. The Speed 6e is a shorter, two-door sports car.

As a four-door and dedicated electric car with no requirements for a combustion-engine version, the Mission E doesn’t suffer from any of the packaging problems that Porsche would get from converting an existing model to be purely electric-powered. The concept car used two electric motors – one on each axle – to produce a combined 600bhp and 663lb ft, drawing their power from lithium ion batteries mounted in the floor. The concept car was all-wheel drive, with the front wheels driven mainly to aid the acceleration and the handling remaining rear-biased, with torque vectoring controlling individual wheels.

The 0-62mph time was quoted at 3.5sec and 0-124mph at less than 12.0sec, despite the concept’s kerb weight of more than 2000kg. Porsche’s electric tech is being developed in-house due to the specific need for an electric Porsche to focus on performance above all else.

Its Zuffenhausen engineering centre is being expanded to support the new model and Porsche plans to sell around 20,000 Mission Es a year when production is ramped up.

The firm will offer the Mission E with a range of power outputs and chassis set-ups. “We will offer different levels of performance,” said Blume. “There will be sporty, high-performance versions and a lower-powered one.”

Q&A with Porsche boss Oliver Blume

Porsche plans to equip it with state-of-the-art electronics that permit over-the-air updates to key systems such as the driveline and autonomous driving functions. This means power outputs could be increased remotely.

The car will also be fitted with an 800V rapid-charging system, which will recharge 80% of the battery in just 15 minutes. Porsche is understood to be working with Hitachi on the technology and is already trialling it with the fitment of two 800V DC fast-chargers at recently opened offices in Berlin.

Porsche will not look to give the Mission E an overly excessive range, because the recharging time is so favourable. As long as the Mission E hits its 500km (310 miles) target, that will be sufficient, Steiner said.

Adding more range means more battery packs, which increases the weight. Steiner said a slight loss in range would be compensated by faster charging times and Porsche is working with customers to decide exactly what the optimum range should be.

“For people who don’t need a big daily driving range but do need an occasional longer range, how much is the cost of sacrificing some range for charging time?” said Steiner.

Further ahead, Porsche is investigating the use of solid-state batteries, which are lighter and more compact than lithium ion cells, as a possible future technology for an all-electric sports car, but production versions are several years away. It has tested the tech in a prototype Boxster, which handled well, but the weight impacted its lap time.

On the Mission E's styling, Porsche design boss Michael Mauer has described the production version as “a beautiful car”. Speaking more generally about electric cars, he said they gave designers “lots of possibilities”. Mauer added: “So far, electric components are still pretty big. You get rid of the metal block of the engine but have to package batteries. Replace one with another. In the end, there will be more freedom for designers as the huge metal block disappears and batteries get smaller.”

Porsche’s next electric car after the Mission E is set to be an SUV – a car Steiner said will have “benefits for Porsche", "because there’s still a trend for SUVs”.

Steiner added: “We made a clear strategy on electric cars to start with cars very close to the core of the brand. We will have a really sporty car between 911 and Panamera. It’s very well known that the SUV segment is growing faster but we didn’t want a ‘me too’ concept but a true Porsche concept.”

Heavy investment into sustainability

The Mission E is a catalyst for all future electrified Porsches, commanding €1 billion (£882 million) worth of investment into the company's research and facilities. The impact of this will help Porsche achieve its wider sustainability plans, which Reimold said includes achieving "CO2-neutral production". The expansion plans Mission E has encouraged will create 1200 new jobs at Porsche.

“We are also planning additional purely electric vehicles and investigating relevant segments," Reimold added.

Related stories: 

Porsche Mission E concept revealed 

Porsche 911 GT3 review 

Porsche Panamera review

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Comments
29

20 November 2017

This is how the Panamera should look like.

A34

11 December 2017

Dear Porsche. To make an electric 911 just put the batteries where the back “seats” are. Done.

20 November 2017

Tesla's new upcoming Roadster2 makes this yet to be released electric Porsche seem obsolete already!

Cyborg

20 November 2017

I like this, but if they sell it at 100k or thereabouts it would seem like a bargain

that being said Cyborg is right, before the announcement of the Tesla roadster 2 I would have thought this was fantastic, but it seems to have been trumped by the Tesla and from what I've heard that car is just the base model- Gulp!

5 January 2018

How does Tesla announcing - not releasing - a two seater roadster, make an about to be actually launched 4 door saloon obsolete? Not sure you've really got a handle on this.

5 January 2018

Agree. Lets see now, which manufacturer is renouned for over promising and under delivering, and which manufacturer is renouned for under promising and over delivering, especially regarding performance? This yet to be named Porsche appears to me to be more comparable to the Model S, which I accept by 2020 will have been upgraded from today's offerings. Does anyone seriously expect Porsche will reveal an inferior product in terms of overall performance than Tesla? As for an electric 911, won't happen until Porsche has the solid state battery technology sorted.

5 January 2018

Cyborg, disclosure I am a Porsche owner, and happy with my choice. However I have driven a Model S for 2 days on the road. It's not a bad car, it's fast, but it is in no way a great car, a luxurious car, and most importantly if you are a car guy or girl, a petrolhead, its pretty uninspiring. Contrast that to my GT4, a way slower car in a straight line and by most, but not all other performance metrics , but a car which is infinately more rewarding and exciting to drive. And on a track, a GT3 makes my GT4 seem like a junior league effort (which of course it is). I would bet if you get on track with the Tesla roadster when (if) it arrives and the best Porsche has to offer at the time, you might reconsider your posted comments. As I have posted on this forum, I admire Tesla, its good for all of us. But making the Porsche obsolete? Glad you ended with a question mark Sir.

20 November 2017

... seem to be forgetting that the Tesla will be released after the Porsche ( in 2020 ( allegedly )) and that at 200K it will cost twice as much as the Porsche.

They also seem to forget that Tesla as been making cars for what, 10 years now? And that they still can't quite get them right. Nice tech, crap quality control.

 

 

 

 

20 November 2017

I agree, but as a startup its done exceptionally well

I think its just a matter of time before theey get the quality perfect

20 November 2017

I agree, but as a startup its done exceptionally well

I think its just a matter of time before theey get the quality perfect

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