Several months ago, Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller alluded to the fabled sports car maker’s plans to offer a purely electric car by the end of the decade. Today, on the eve of the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Stuttgart-based automaker gave us a glimpse of what a purely electric Porsche for the masses might look like.
To counter Tesla’s meteoric rise to pre-eminence in the battery-powered luxury car market, as well as meet ever-tightening efficiency and emission around the globe, Porsche plans to differentiate itself in the market by focusing its development efforts on engines and handling rather than push for the latest advances in in-car Internet and automated driving.
Hence, the gorgeous Mission E, a four-door sports car prototype with a clear mission statement that maximum performance and optimal efficiency are not mutually exclusive. Visually, it is a cross between the 911 and 918 Plug-In Hybrid. In profile has the flowing lines of the 918, but is much less aggressive looking.
Though Porsche says the concept boasts an entirely new powertrain, it does bear a lot of similar to the one used in last year’s Le Mans-winning 919 plug-in hybrid supercar. As such, the Mission E is powered by two “permanently-excited” synchronous motors (PSM), which together produce over 600 horsepower. Working in tandem, they can reportedly propel the sleek vehicle to 62 mph in less than 3.5 seconds and 200 km/h in under 12 seconds.
Also on tap to transfer all that power to the ground are an all-wheel drive system with Porsche Torque Vectoring, which automatically distributes torque to the individual wheels, and all-wheel steering for more precise handling along the lines of the hellacious 911 GT3.
How far can the Mission E travel on a single charge? Here it seems Porsche has significantly one-upped the competition by opting for an 800-volt drive system, instead of a 400-volt system. The automaker says it will allow the Mission E to travel over 500 km (310 miles) on a single charge, and that the battery can recharge with enough energy for around 400 km more driving range in about the same time one can refill a 911—less than 15 minutes. And since the system uses smaller gauge copper cables to transfer power, it also reduces vehicle weight. The 800-volt charge port is located behind the vehicle’s right front fender.
Inside, the Mission E is a minimalist’s dream. Racecar-inspired bucket seats cocoon the passengers, front and back, in relative comfort as well as provides secure lateral support during spirited driving. The elegantly curved center console flows between the center console like a bridge to the dashboard. The dash is adorned only by a few controls and the OLED instrument cluster.
The concept vehicle can also be configured externally from a tablet via Porsche Car Connect, allowing the driver to change the functional content of the vehicle overnight. A simple update via the integrated high-speed data module is all it takes. The driver can use a smartphone or tablet to start updates.
And finally, virtual exterior mirrors provide an added sense of safety. The rearview feed from cameras mounted on the front wings appears in the lower corners of the windshield providing the driver with a better view of his or her surroundings.
While the Mission E is a pure show car, there are enough realistic elements to suggest that Porsche has done its homework on what it would take to build a production four-seat electric sportscar. Tesla’s time with the market to itself may be shorter lived than anyone expected.