Porsche charging up for entry into EV market
Monday, January 22, 2018
By the sheer numbers, electric vehicles (EVs) are still a mere blip on the radar of the larger American automotive consciousness. According to sales figures from Fleetcarma after the first half of 2017, EVs made up 1.07 percent of all automotive sales in the U.S.
However, that proportion of EVs also represented a 40 percent year-over-year gain from the first half of 2016.
If the recent Detroit Auto Show was any indication, not only will that 40 percent jump seem modest in a few years, but more automakers will also release myriad EVs that span the spectrums of performance and luxury.
In Detroit, Ford announced it was investing $11 billion into hybrids and EVs, with the goal of having 24 new hybrids and 16 fully-electric models to market by 2022, including the electric Mach 1 SUV scheduled to debut in 2020. That came a few months after archrival GM said it would launch at least 20 EVs by 2023.
But it's not just America's most prolific automakers that are getting in on the future EV game.
At the Jan. 17 Automotive News World Congress event in Detroit, Klaus Zellmer, the chief executive officer of Porsche Cars North America, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, "There is no doubt in my mind that once range increases, prices drop and a fast-charging infrastructure is in place, customers will prefer electric powertrains against combustion engines."
That's quite a statement from a high-level executive at a marque that has been so important for high-performance internal combustion engineering for so long, but it's one that's borne out in Porsche's immediate corporate objectives — and one that hints at a growing electric supercar arms race.
The Mission E vehicles are set to go to market next year with three performance trims ranging from 300 to 500 kilowatts of power (approximately 400 to 670 horsepower) with a starting base price around $75,000 to $80,000. Work on Mission E is far enough along that Automobile Magazine was given a test drive at Porsche's Weissach test track late last year.
But Porsche isn't merely content with Mission E and its potential to take a bite out of Tesla's Model S sales.
On Jan. 11, Automotive News Europe reported that Porsche was beginning to develop an electric supercar platform that could also be used for fellow Volkswagen Group-owned performance brands like Audi and Lamborghini. The platform is called SPE and wouldn't be scheduled to start putting cars to market until 2025, by which time VW Group plans to have 80 electrified models available across all its brands.
The electric supercar production timeline for SPE puts it on a much more patient timeline than Tesla's second-generation Roadster, which Elon Musk announced in November and claims will be released in 2020 with 0-60 mph acceleration in a fantastical 1.9 seconds.
Now, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who for years doubted the viability of electric cars, claimed before the Detroit Auto Show that Ferrari will debut an electric supercar even before Tesla. Other ultrahigh-end brands, like Aston Martin and McLaren have also either signaled their interest to compete with the supposed new Roadster, or are already taking steps to build such a vehicle.
EVs are still miniscule by number compared to the top-selling vehicles on the market. However, their day appears to have finally arrived, and Porsche is perfectly prepared to offer some of the highest-quality — and fastest — electrified vehicles on the planet.
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