Porsche's long-awaited EV now has a name

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Two years to go, but already on the home run _ with the car we've previously known as Mission-E now having a proper name, its national distributor can knuckle down on planning local sales. We're talking Taycan, Porsche's first fully-electric car, set to begin New Zealand market delivery in 2020, about a year after production begins. A street-legal name rather than a numerical moniker wholly conforms with modern Porsche convention, yet it's an interesting choice all the same. A Eurasian word roughly translated as `lively young horse', Taycan references the imagery at the heart of the Porsche crest, which features a leaping horse.Doubtless it will also take on `slayer' as a suffix to the names of some certain rivals. Expect comparison with Tesla's Model S, for sure, and probably the upcoming Jaguar I-Pace, set to be an entry into the NZ scene next year. Perhaps, in time there will also be performance-minded, battery-pure products from Porsche's fellow Volkswagen Group members that conspire to be challengers. Audi, though initially focusing on electrifying crossovers, seems certain to forward a car that marries Quattro to clock-beating electric urges. And, of course, there's Volkswagen itself, whose own all-electric I.D. programme, though city and family-focused, will also surely create a vehicle reflecting the just-achieved glory it has gained from having just set the outright record in the world's most famous hillclimb. The Volkswagen I.D.R car's performance at Pikes Peak _ 20km of 156 twists and turns rising nearly six kilometres in elevation _ on June 26 must surely lay to rest any remaining doubt about the performance and power of electric cars. A seven minute, 57 seconds winning time reduced (by 16 seconds) the previous best overall time, set in 2013 by rally ace Sebastian Loeb in a purpose-built Peugeot 208 T16 _ with a 3.2 litre, twin turbo, petrol V6. All-in-all, it's a rather good start for a car that Volkswagen developed from scratch in just eight months. Taycan, of course, has taken much longer to develop. But, then, so it should have, given that it faces the sternest challenge in motoring _ that is, the requirement to perform faultlessly while meeting the everyday expectations of any Porsche. Which, given the brand's performance pedigree, raises the possibility of a wider span of potentials than are met by most road-able electric cars. Will it be up to it? "Our new electric sports car is strong and dependable,'' Porsche chief Oliver Blume says. The Taycan ``must be a Porsche first,'' added Stefan Weckbach, vice-president of Porsche's battery electric vehicle programme, when the model was revealed to the world during last month's celebration, in Germany, of Porsche's 70th birthday. "It must have repeatable and sustained performance. It cannot sacrifice performance.'' Everyone knows that electric drivetrains can perform insane acts of acceleration, thanks to Tesla and its ludicrous mode. The problem is that once the battery starts to heat up, which can happen after just a couple of full-power sprints, performance falls off. Fast. That trait cannot be afforded by the Taycan, Porsche acknowledges. The car's development has been going on for years, starting before the unveiling of the Mission-E Saloon concept car at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. That first concept provided the styling ethos, yet it's a second, the Mission-E Cross Turismo cousin, which probably gives more of an inkling about Taycan's drivetrain. So far the maker is conceding only bare facts about the showroom product, saying it is powered by two synchronous motors generating more than 447kW, which enable it to achieve 0-100kmh in less than 3.5 seconds and reach 200kmh in under 12 seconds. That all sounds very similar to the drivetrain fitted to the Cross Turismo. Porsche won't say exactly how big the battery pack in either car is, but the Cross Turismo's is said to be in the region of 90kWh. Whatever the capacity, it's enough for the same 500km-plus range _ even more than you'd get from a top-spec Tesla _ claimed for Taycan. How to feed the beast? Charging ability is an ever-evolving area. The Taycan concept uses 800v architecture, double that of the Tesla's 400v system, meaning it can recharge its batteries in far less time. Porsche reckons it can recharge 80 percent of its total capacity (worth around 400km of range) in just 15 minutes. This, though, requires an 800v charger. Of which there are currently none. But Porsche is, with the rest of the VW Group, developing fast chargers through a company called Ionity. Overseas journals reckon they'll roll out 400 fast charging stations across Europe by 2020, providing a credible rival to Tesla's Supercharger network. And here? Recently Audi NZ let slip that it is in talks with an interested provider about creating something of the same. Certainly, it has a vested interest, as its first full-blown EV (the Q6 crossover, coming within 18 months) is another that needs larger-capacity networks than exist at present. Whether Cross Turismo reaches production is far from clear, although Porsche openly acknowledges Taycan is but the start of a broader electrification strategy. Porsche expects full-electric and hybrid-electric cars will account for 25% of its sales by 2025. Consistent with the prediction, the company will double spending on electrification of vehicles to more than 6 billion euros ($7.4 billion) by 2022 from $3.7 billion. About $612 million of the investment will be used to develop Taycan-associated variants. Outside of this, it has just bought a minority stake in Rimac, the Croatia-based performance EV brand company behind the Concept One hypercar which former Top Gear turned Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond destroyed on a televised hillclimb race in Switzerland. Formed in 2009 and employing 400 people, Rimac has proven itself as a leading EV technology supplier and high-performance electric vehicle manufacturer. The Concept One, which employs a 947kW electric motor to deliver a claimed 0-100kmh time of 3.3 seconds and a 335kmh top speed, has been successively surpassed by a lighter and more powerful Concept S and the Rimac C Two, with its 1407kW drive system.

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