The electric vehicle market is finally about to get interesting. It has been some time since Tesla proved that EVs didn't have to involve hair shirts, and at long last some other automakers are ready to enter the fray. Later this week at the Geneva Motor Show, Jaguar is going to reveal the I-Pace, which goes on sale shortly. Audi is readying its e-tron for later in the year. And Porsche has the Mission E.
The Mission E is a sleek four-door that promises 600hp (447kW) and 310 miles (500km) of range from a 95kWh battery pack. We first saw a concept of the Mission E back in 2015. Such was the reaction that Porsche had to green light the program.
Today, more details have emerged on the car, its development, and plans for a high-speed charging network. According to Stefan Weckbach, head of battery electric vehicles at Porsche, expect it to still feel like a real Porsche, even if there is no internal combustion engine. "The most fascinating thing about this project has been the team spirit and enthusiasm which has infected the entire organization. The entire company is working towards a single goal: with Mission E, we will offer a fully electric Porsche which is a perfect fit for our brand, finds approval with our customers, and rightfully bears the name 'Porsche,'" he said.
Electric powertrains might be relatively new to Porsche, but the company is a quick study. The 919 Hybrid race car was one of its testbeds, one that won Le Mans three times in a row between 2015 and 2017. So the straight line performance will be there—and needs to be to keep up with those Ludicrous Teslas.
But it also means that it will be a car that can handle. "Regardless of the powertrain, many of the challenges remain the same. Exterior, interior, chassis, brakes, and so on. This is where the body of Porsche expertise, accumulated over decades, comes into play. And our policy is to develop new electronic architectures, screens, head-up displays, over-the-air functions or digital services for all the model lines at once wherever reasonable, regardless of the powertrain type," Weckbach said.
Even Porsche's sports cars have always had a certain practicality about them, and the Mission E is no different. Underneath the nose, the "frunk" has 3.5 cubic feet (100L) of storage volume, despite also needing to make room for power electronics and the like. And the battery pack—which sits between the axles—has been sculpted to give rear seat passengers somewhere to put their feet.
"This means that the car has a flatter design, with the sloping roof line, which is typical of Porsche. And an optimum center of gravity," Weckbach said.
We also learned that Porsche and other members of the Volkswagen Group will build out a network of fast-charging infrastructure in Europe and here in the US. Right at the beginning of the project, it was decided the Mission E would use an 800V electrical architecture to allow for rapid recharging—250 miles in less than 20 minutes being the plan. In Europe, VW Group is working with other OEMs in a consortium to make that happen, but here in the US it will go it alone.
We expect Audi will have some plans of its own to share in due course as it prepares for the e-tron. As for now, we know what Porsche has in store. "To meet customer expectations, one of our priorities will be to equip our 189 dealerships with 800-volt DC fast-chargers," explained Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO, Porsche Cars North America. "We are also working with other organizations on a network of DC fast-chargers for cities and highways. And this is in addition to the thousands of lower-voltage (Level 2 and DC Fast) charging stations that already exist around the country."
However, Zellmer pointed out that the overwhelming majority of EV charging is happening at home. Luckily for Porsche, the bulk of its customers almost certainly have garages in which to charge.