As I’ve written before, there are no “Tesla fighters” to date, and concept cars that will theoretically be built in a few years and match today’s Tesla specs & performance are not Tesla fighters either. In a few years, if they are released, we’ll see if they match Tesla’s offerings at that time. If they do, then we can call them Tesla fighters… except that one of the huge underlying goals of Tesla CEO, Product Architect, and cofounder Elon Musk has long been to inspire other automakers to make quality electric cars. With that being the case, we can perhaps call them “Tesla followers” or “Tesla allies.” In any case, though, let’s move on to the news…
Porsche has unveiled an absolute beauty of an electric car… er, concept car… at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA).
Before showing a lot more pictures and discussing this concept car, though, a little more background is in order: Porsche, as we all know, is famous for high-end performance cars. It has been the leader in that realm for a long time. When the Tesla Model S came along, Porsche undoubtedly lost a lot of customers. John Voelcker nicely summarizes: “Perhaps no German prestige carmaker was more rattled than Porsche by the sudden appearance of electric-car startup Tesla Motors. With the sports-car brand having just launched its first sedan, the Panamera, the arrival of the Tesla Model S in 2012 offered an alternative take on a large luxury sedan: one offering stunning performance not from a huge V-8 but from electric power.”
Porsche did go ahead and launch a plug-in hybrid version of the Panamera, and that has gotten decent sales, reaching ~10% of all Panamera sales. But it’s no Tesla, and it hasn’t sold like the Tesla Model S, and Porsche must have noticed.
Surprisingly, Porsche CEO Matthias Müller claimed earlier this year that he knew nothing about Tesla. Err, what? That didn’t make any sense, but his comments yesterday when unveiling the Mission E certainly did.
TeslaMondo started a piece on the hypocrisy with these two quotes:
May 7, 2015: Porsche CEO Matthias Müller: “I cannot say anything about Tesla,” he said. “I don’t know anything about Tesla.”
Sept. 14, 2015: Porsche CEO Matthias Müller: “We have great respect for Tesla,” Mr. Müller said. “They are the only one who have brought an electric vehicle on the market that you have to take seriously.”
Seriously, say what? That’s some turnaround. But let’s finally talk about the Mission E, the concept electric car Porsche just unveiled.
That’s one beautiful car, no? Sadly, Porsche doesn’t even know yet if it will produce the thing. Apparently, it will make a decision by December. I can only expect the media buzz will be enough to push Porsche into “high-speed” preparation and then production, but who knows — sometimes, getting a giant company to move into the future is just too much to ask.
I’m not sure how much it’s worth talking about the “specs” and details of such a concept car, but Porsche says the Mission E has an electric motor on each axle, an estimated range of 500 kilometers or 311 miles (just like the Audi e-tron quattro, which is surely no coincidence), an estimated 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) time of 3.5 seconds, and an ability to lap the Nürburgring in under 8 minutes. Furthermore, the battery would reportedly be able to recharge 80% in ~15 minutes on a 800-volt charging system. (“Such a system doesn’t exist today—even from Tesla—leaving open the question of how such fast recharging would be accomplished in real life,” John notes.) 800-volt charging would be double currently common 400-volt charging, but where would that be done? Johan on the Tesla Motors Club forum tries to bring the claim to something more realistic:
500 km on a full charge in a lighter sportscar, though 4-door and likely larger than the Roadster sounds to me like a 70kWh or so battery (the 500 kms being optimistic as always in press release cars). 0-80% in 15 minutes would mean a very high charge rate, something like 200+ kW (Tesla’s SC does 120 kW). I’d like to see that connector… Being a bit more realistic let’s say the 500 km is really 350 km at 160 Wh/km (careful driving) which would mean 56kWh battery and that the 15 minutes of charging is really 20 minutes – that would put the 0-80% charge power at 130kW which seems more realistic.
The upcoming IEC 62196-3 standard is max 1000VDC @ 400A = 400kW. They are using a CCS connector, so “widespread network” will be a joke for a while. Most CCS chargers are going to be ~1/2 of a Supercharger for a while until something comes along that needs it.
I’m sure Tesla has this IEC standard on their roadmap. I’m also sure the new batteries that come out of the Gigafactory will be 800V+ for full sized sedans and SUVs (and trucks!)
Remember those liquid cooled thin cables? They should be able to handle the higher voltage with the same amperage just fine. Robot snakes to handle the 800VDC, even
Others have questioned the feasibility of charging stations with multiple stalls charging at 800V, whether currently feasible battery chemistries can handle the fast charging, and other challenges.
Lastly, here are some key words from Porsche CEO Matthias Müller (via ev-enthusiast):
We have very high technical requirements for driving experience, technology, top speed, range, rechargetime for this vehicle. The goal is very ambitious. It’ll take quite some time till the technology for such an ambitious vehicle will be ready to start series volume production. Maybe the technology is ready at the end of this decade.
Indicating just how much this Porsche electric concept aims to match the Model S, it uses the “skateboard” powertrain design of the Model S, with a flat battery spanning much of the underside of the Mission E. But the real question is: will Porsche ever be able to catch up to Tesla’s skateboards?