Hooked on gas? Porsche is about to give you a good reason to go electric

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Hooked on gas? Porsche is about to give you a good reason to go electric

Porsche won applause when it confirmed plans to make the all-electric Mission E concept a reality. The Tesla-baiting sedan was so well received by enthusiasts and would-be buyers that the German firm announced not a lot will change as it transitions from a show car to a production model. But one key aspect will evolve: The name. Porsche confirmed the Mission E will be called Taycan when it arrives in showrooms. And, to erase all doubts about its main rival, it will be priced at the same level as the Model S.

Pronounced “tie-con,” the name roughly translates to “lively young horse” in an unspecified Eurasian dialect. It’s a reference to the company’s logo.

“The external design will be very similar,” Porsche CEO Oliver Blume told Top Gear. Of course, Porsche will have to make a few tweaks to get the Taycan to comply with safety regulations all around the world, so it won’t be exactly identical to the concept. In terms of size, the firm’s first battery-electric vehicle will be shorter and a little lower than the Panamera. Making it smaller will help the company avoid overlapping.

The Taycan will offer a driving position similar to the one found in the 911, a so-called “hovering” center console, and an entirely digital instrument cluster. Porsche promises to give the two rear passengers what it calls a “foot garage,” a solution that creates more space by making the foot wells noticeably deeper than the rest of the floor. It will be practical, too, because it will offer a trunk on both ends.

E-power, and lots of it

At launch, the Taycan will feature two electric motors, one powering each axle. The front one will deliver 215 horsepower while the one on the rear axle will contribute an additional 402 horsepower, according to Car magazine. Upmarket variants will come with four-wheel steering, an air suspension, active aerodynamic technology, and a 48-volt anti-roll system similar to the one used by the Bentley Bentayga, among other models. At the other end of the spectrum, Car learned the base Taycan will come with a steel suspension, a conventional steering system, and a single-motor, 402-horsepower rear-wheel drive powertrain. Additional versions will join the lineup later in the production run. Anything is possible with the not-insignificant exception of a gasoline engine.

The Taycan will be all-electric, all the time. With 600 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, it will perform the benchmark 0-to-60-mph sprint in under 3.5 seconds in its quickest configuration. The battery pack stuffed under the passenger compartment will store enough electricity for about 300 miles of real-world range, according to Porsche’s estimates, and it will be compatible with Porsche’s novel 800-volt technology. Porsche is working with external suppliers like LG and Panasonic to develop the lithium-ion pack.

“The past history [of LG and Panasonic] makes them battery experts, in particular when it comes to smartphones and their requirements,” Uwe Michael, the head of electrics/electronics development at Porsche, said in an interview.

The pack will be designed specifically for the [Taycan]. “The batteries have a major influence on driving dynamics, for example. Off-the-shelf procurement is simply not an option for Porsche,” he added.

Looking ahead, the firm is spending its development dollars on solid-state batteries. It doesn’t expect the technology to be ready for series production until the late 2020s, though. Lithium-ion will be the standard chemistry in electric cars in the coming years.

Let’s talk in volts

Unique on the market for the time being, an 800-volt charging system will give the battery an 80% charge (about 250 miles) in under 20 minutes — at least theoretically. Porsche predicts 800-volt technology will help make the Taycan more convenient to drive while also making it more dynamic. It’s not just an electric car — it’s an electric Porsche.

Porsche concedes that, while bringing an EV with an 800-volt charging system to the market is feasible, it’s a little bit useless unless there’s a vast network of 800-volt charging stations that it can be plugged into. Blume said Porsche is currently talking to government officials in Europe, the United States, and China about investing in 800-volt stations. Digital Trends can reveal inductive charging technology will be offered on the Taycan, too.

In January 2019, Porsche announced every Taycan will come with three years of complimentary unlimited charging at Electrify America chargers scattered across the nation. That’s huge; imagine Porsche throwing in three years’ worth of gasoline every time someone purchases a 911. The growing Electrify America network will include 300 highway locations in 42 states, according to the firm, and 180 sites in 17 metro area. Each station will consist of five chargers, though some will boast up to 10 if Electrify America foresees significant demand. Additionally, every Porsche dealership in the United States will install charging stations in preparation for the Taycan’s arrival.

An intelligent Porsche

Like most modern, high-end electric cars, the Taycan will be fully connected and come with some level of autonomy. Level five — full autonomy, where a driver isn’t required — isn’t a priority for Porsche, according to Michael, but the sedan will offer driver-assistance systems (like InnoDrive) designed to take over in a traffic jam or on a long road trip, for example. Porsche is also investing in an over-the-air updating system it calls the “Car for Life” concept. In the not-too-distant future, it will be possible to update the infotainment system and many other systems at the push of a button. The driver could, conceivably, unlock more range.

“Connectivity is certainly something customers are asking for. I think there’s also some degree of creative engineering going on to solve questions that may not yet even be in the minds of customers. That’s what innovation is about. That’s something we will continue to push forward,” Lawrence told Digital Trends.

When can I buy one?

Camouflaged prototypes are already crisscrossing the globe. Pre-production is already underway in a facility located on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany, Porsche’s home town, and we expect the Taycan to make its public debut at a major auto show by the end of 2019. If this prediction is accurate, the company’s first full-production electric model will arrive in showrooms in time for the 2020 model year.

Porsche will keep the momentum going by introducing a more spacious version of the car previewed by the Cross Turismo concept, and the next Macan will be entirely electric. The Taycan will also lend its platform to an electric Audi super-sedan previewed by the E-Tron GT concept unveiled in 2018.

How much will it cost?

In terms of pricing, the Taycan will slot between the Cayenne and the Panamera. It will carry a base price of about $75,000 before incentives are factored in. In other words, it will fight in exactly the same segment as the Tesla Model S. That figure also places it in the same price bracket as the Audi E-Tron SUV, among other premium electric cars. The catalog won’t stop there. Porsche will expand the Taycan family later in the production run with more powerful models that it could charge about 200,000 euros (nearly $230,000) for, according to Automotive News. Details about those variants haven’t been released.

Though it hasn’t been unveiled, and Porsche isn’t taking pre-orders yet, the battery-powered sedan has already generated quite a buzz in the United States and abroad. It allegedly doubled its annual production forecast from 20,000 to 40,000 units.

“As you can imagine, the Taycan has been positively received by the public as well as the media. While we haven’t disclosed details around the level of public interest yet, Porsche enthusiasts and dealers are telling us that they can’t have this car soon enough,” a Porsche spokesperson told Digital Trends via email.

Updated on July 20, 2019: Added the Taycan’s specs.

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