Porsche Knows its Electric Cars Have to Perform Like They Burn Gasoline

We sat down with the head of Porsche's EV lineup to find out how the automaker will fit electric cars in its performance lineup.

Máté Petrány / Road&Track

Porsche's first modern electric car, the Mission E, is coming soon, and if the feedback is positive, it will be closely followed by the Cross Turismo variant. Both are pretty much production-ready as we speak, based on Porsche's self-developed J1 platform. And there's a lot more coming, as we learned from Dr. Stefan Weckbach, head of Porsche's EV line.

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The VW Group's universal EV platform is called PPE. It's a mix of their best available modules, upgraded with new elements such as permanent magnet motors and an 800V electrical system, developed partly through the Porsche 919 endurance racing program. Yet long before work could begin on the PPE, Porsche came up with its own EV platform, the J1.

The upcoming Mission E is based on this in-house development, which could go on to underpin a number of future products, including two-door, 2+2 and convertible models. The only limitation is that, although the wheelbase can be changed without losing battery capacity, the J1 isn't suitable for high-floor cars such as crossovers and SUVs. That's where the new PPE will come in, once it is ready. Which means that due to timing, Audi's first electric SUV is based on a modified MLB platform, bringing the VW Group's total number of EV platforms to three thus far.

Máté Petrány / Road&Track
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Porsche will use its own permanent-magnet electric motors rather than share the units used in Audi's electric SUV. Porsche's motors were co-developed with external partners, and are more expensive to make, but also offer better heat management and higher power density in a lighter and smaller package.

Porsche will, however, share battery technology with other brands within the VW Group. All models will use lithium-ion cells for the foreseeable future. Charging infrastructure will involve more than 400 high-speed charging points to be built in Europe and the U.S. by a joint venture between Porsche and a fleet of other brands; VW's EV line will be compatible with 400V charging systems where 800V isn't available. As expected, the product offering will expand rapidly in a very short time, with Daimler and BMW working equally hard on their upcoming electrified lineups.

Máté Petrány / Road&Track

In terms of weight, the Mission E won't improve much over the current Panamera 4 e-Hybrid (4949 lbs). Yet thanks to its low center of gravity, it should be much more of a driver's car, especially in base rear-wheel drive form. But despite the fact that Porsche is willing to make rear-drive EVs, don't expect to see an electric 911 GT2 anytime soon. In fact, don't hold your breath for any electric two-seater from Porsche just yet. The timing on EV sports cars, as well as the plug-in hybrid 911, is still up in the air; development hasn't started yet, and will take years once it gets the green light. In the meantime, the Panamera is most likely to be the next in line.

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It is important to note that Porsche's performance targets for its EVs are the same as for its gasoline cars. That translates to repeatable performance, something Aston Martin is also talking about—the ability to do consistent, back-to-back 0-60 runs, run at sustained top speeds, or even turn competitive laps around race tracks including the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Máté Petrány / Road&Track

Porsche doesn't want to fragment its product offerings just because it has an EV platform to play with. The smallest Porsche remains the 718 Boxster, while the lineup goes in three directions: EVs; plug-in hybrids; and pure, track-focused sports cars featuring naturally-aspirated flat-sixes, manual gearboxes, and all the mechanical things we like.

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Still, get ready for those electric Porsche burnouts. They shall last as long as Michelin can provide tires to sustain them.

Máté Petrány / Road&Track

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