Details of Porsche Mission E Reveal Tesla Contender


Details about the Porsche Mission E are beginning to emerge, thanks to Automobile magazine contributor Georg Kacher being invited to drive one of the few existing prototypes at Porsche’s Weissach test track recently. He reports that every Mission E will have all-wheel drive, at least at first. There is speculation that a rear-drive-only version may be offered at some point in the future.

That leads us to the subject of price. Porsche has still not finalized pricing for the Mission E, but sources continue to affirm what we wrote in September about prices starting at between $75,000 and $80,000 for the base model. It’s no coincidence that a base Tesla Model S is about the same price. Porsche is definitely treating the Mission E as its answer to the Tesla challenge.

Three performance levels are expected be offered — 400 kW, 500 kW, and 600 kW. For those without access to a kilowatt-to-horsepower converter, those numbers translate into 536 horsepower, 670 horsepower, and 804 horsepower. As the electric car revolution moves forward, we need to train our brains to think in terms of kilowatts rather then horsepower, since kilowatts provide a better representation of the power of an electric motor.

Reportedly, the front motor will be the same in all versions — 160 kW at 16,000 rpm. Various rear motors will be used, depending on the performance level desired. A two-speed transmission that can handle full power shifts is undergoing development. An electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential is part of the rear-mounted power package as well. Porsche will use synchronous permanent magnet motors, which it says provide superior continuous performance in a smaller, lighter package.

Tesla has gotten a lot of favorable publicity from the spectacular acceleration available from its performance models. The Model S P100D — popularly known as a “plood” — with Ludicrous mode is the fastest mass-production car ever made. The Tesla is awesome off the line but its performance envelope is relatively short lived due to heating of the battery during maximum power operation.

The Mission E is not built solely to outgun the “plood” to 60 mph. Instead, it will gallop to that speed in about 3.5 seconds while offering repeatable, high-performance handling and spirited driving without overheating. Both battery cell chemistry and a complex battery cooling system are designed to let the Mission E handle high-speed driving on the Autobahn for an hour or more and still be capable of up to 300 miles of range. Top speed is 155 mph.

One thing that no one seems to know the definitive answer to is what the final production version of the car will look like. To date, all the media releases about the car show it with rear doors hinged at the back, making access to the rear seat extraordinarily easy. While retaining some styling cues from the iconic 911, the front end of the concept is a bold departure from traditional Porsche designs. On balance, the car most people have seen in photographs is dramatic in appearance, especially with all four doors open.

But Porsche has been road testing some other prototypes that are a disappointment compared to the concept. They have four doors mounted in conventional fashion and a front end that is much less emotional than the one shown on the concept car. Frankly, the test mules — if that is what they are — look like a Dodge Charger with the front clip from a Panamera bolted on.

If Porsche should have learned anything from Elon Musk and Tesla, it is that doors are a big deal. The Model X may be a great car, but one key thing that sets it apart from every other car on the road is its falcon-wing doors. Should Porsche wimp out on the doors (lots of manufacturers generate media attention with similar designs that never make it into production), it will be a buzzkill moment for the Mission E and turn it into just another electric sedan in an increasingly crowded market.

Inside, the Mission E has room for a driver and three passengers. It is smaller than a Panamera sedan but has almost as much interior room. “The production version is in essence a C-segment sedan with an almost D-size interior,” explains project leader Stefan Weckbach. “Visually, the car combines 911 overtones with fresh proportions and very good space utilization, even though the Mission E is notably more compact than the Panamera.”

One thing George Kacher noticed was that the Mission E he drove had a lap timer built in. “Why not?” says project engineer Michael Behr. “This car is smog-free but is also a hoot to drive thanks to the low center of gravity, the dedicated air suspension, and the precise steering. Make no mistake: This is a proper Porsche through and through.”

The first Mission E cars are scheduled to be available in 2019 and will be designated 2020 model year vehicles. Porsche is planning to build 20,000 a year but could bump that to 30,000 if the demand is strong. In my humble estimation, if the production car has the visual excitement of the concept, Porsche will need to build more cars. If it doesn’t, the company won’t. Your mileage may vary. See dealer for details.


Porsche Mission E | Gallery

Originally published by Cleantechnica.

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