By Allen Penticoff
Oh, the indignity… a quiet Porsche. Truly, Porsche aficionados are up in arms, disgusted that their beloved sports cars will not throb with pistons pulsating with expanding hot gases exiting trough carefully tuned mufflers. It is a design problem that Porsche engineers have had some trouble dealing with. Potential owners of the electric Porsche want to hear something. Yet the new Macan, a four-door sedan designed to compete with the Tesla P285D, had the problem of being so quiet that other little wind noises and rattles could be heard. They had to tighten up those annoyances and then install a faux engine or electric motor sound (through the audio system, so it can be on or off as you please) that would give the driver a sense of what the 600 horsepower delivered by two electric motors were up to.
Porsche sports car owners have been up in arms for a while now as the company has gone on to building four-door sedans and SUVs that have become the profit center for the enterprise. Yes, the rear-engine 911 is still considered the flagship “sports car” and the Boxster its spritely cute sister, but the real world of attracting well-heeled buyers is offering more practical vehicles. Porsche (a division of Volkswagen) like all other European Union auto manufacturers is facing tough new environmental legislation coming to EU countries in the year 2020. All of them are heading in the direction of electric power – so expect to see more reports like this of new models emerging from VW, Audi, Mini, Mercedes Benz and others. Porsche is investing 1.1 billion dollars on this “Mission E” platform to stay in what is projected to be a quadrupling of global electric cars sales – to 1.2 million by 2020 (three years away).
What Porsche has found in operating a number of disguised electric platforms among a hundred employees logging 100,000 miles of driving is enlightening. What they want is 300-mile range and no more than 15 minutes to “refuel.” They want to travel and fill up fast – later versions did allow this, so these testers began to go on longer trips out of Germany. Porsche has made their electric drive system operate on 800 volts versus the current 400-volt standard. This high voltage enables them to charge 250 miles of range in the target 15 minutes. This is extraordinary, and of course if you are driving a pure electric car you have no intention of running the batteries completely flat while on a trip. Obviously, there are provisions for at-home charging that takes about ten hours for the same amount of power consumed. Since Germany is becoming ever more sustainable in its electric energy sourcing, you are not “burning coal” to fill up your Porsche, which is the whole point of building an electric car. But I would not expect the charging infrastructure for the 15-minute fast charge to appear in the United States in the immediate future – but you never know.
Being a Porsche, you’d of course want to know how fast is this “family car.” Hang on… 0-60 mph is a rocket launch 3.5 seconds. Top speed 150 mph. That should do for going after the groceries or taking the kids to soccer practice. I would expect pricing to be in the “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” range of $100,000-plus. Availability is projected for 2018, although there will likely be limited production in 2017 available to the media – perhaps Mr. Green Car can drive one at the upcoming Chicago Auto Show (February 11-20).