Porsche on Wednesday lifted the silks to reveal the final production version of its first all-electric sports car the Taycan. The debut, in Niagra Falls, Ontario, comes almost precisely four years after the original Mission E concept vehicle was revealed at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Expected to start at around $150,000 when it reaches U.S. showrooms in the coming months, the Taycan will boast a four-door body similar to that of the current, gas-powered Porsche Panamera. But it also will deliver blistering performance and handling more like the classic 911 sports car, company officials boasted.
Two versions initially will be offered, the 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo and the Turbo S, which will come in around $180,000, retaining the sort of nomenclature normally associated with the carmaker’s gas-powered product lines. The sportier Taycan Turbo S will be able to launch from 0 to 60 in just 2.6 seconds, in line with a similar 911 model, according to Porsche. Both of the Taycan offerings will have top speeds limited at 161 mph.
Additionally, the new Taycan offers a 93.4 kWh battery pack and range of 450 km, using Europe’s range ratings. The new Taycan is one of the few electrics ever to use a multi-speed gearbox, a two speed automatic linking rear motor to the axle.
All of these produce a stunning fast sports car, only cemented by the fact that it set an electric record at Germany’s famous Nurburgring, running the loop in 7:42.
While the vary name, Porsche, might bring to mind high-performance gasoline power, the company’s founder, Ferdinand Porsche, actually designed one of the world’s first plug-in hybrids, the Loehner-Porsche Mixte, as a young engineer more than a century ago. And, in more recent years, the company has used various forms of hybrid power in both its race and street cars. But the Taycan is its first all-electric production model, and will be produced at an all-new plant in Zuffenhausen, Germany, not far from its headquarters.
Like parent Volkswagen AG – which intends to introduce nearly 50 long-range electric models by 2025 – Porsche is investing heavily in battery power. It will have three electric models over the next several years, including a crossover version of the Taycan, and a battery-powered version of the next-generation Macan SUV. All told, the brand plans to invest 6 billion euro, or $6.6 billion, by 2022 to electrify its line-up. That includes the addition of an all-new plant in Zuffenhausen, Germany, not far from its headquarters.
“By 2025, we expect more than 50% of the vehicles we sell worldwide will have a plug, whether hybrid or all-electric,” said Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche cars North America, during the Niagra Falls unveiling.
Porsche’s push into electrification highlights one of the big changes reshaping the way the industry is approaching battery power. Where early products, such as the plug-in Chevrolet Volt and all-electric Nissan Leaf, focused on energy efficiency, high-line brands are pushing performance, taking advantage of the tire-spinning torque electric motors offer.
The list of new, high-line brands entering the electric car market is extensive, including traditional marques like Aston Martin, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, as well as new brands such as Rimac and even Pininfarina, which recently debuted its 200+ mph Battista.
The 2020 Porsche Taycan will rely on two electric motors, one on each axle. The “base” Turbo model will produce 670 horsepower, enough to hit 60 mph in 3.0 seconds. The 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S punches that up to 750 hp, and will hit 60 in just 2.6 seconds. The automaker also hinted that additional variants could follow, in keeping with its traditional approach to product development.
“We will stick with our practice and have future derivatives,” though “probably not as many as the 24 911 derivatives,” said Zellmer. When asked about the options, he said, “Not everyone needs (so much power) every day, so we could scale back.”
The lithium-ion battery pack in the Taycan is expected to yield about 250 miles of range, though Porsche is still waiting for formal numbers to be released by the EPA. He also hinted a “denser” battery pack could be offered, perhaps boosting range, performance — or both.
The sports car becomes the first capable of using the latest generation of Level 3 quick chargers thanks to its new, 800-volt electrical system. Plugged into a 350 kilowatt public charging station, the Taycan will be able to “refill” 80% of its capacity in about 20 minutes.
As with those plug-based vehicles already on the market, however, Porsche officials said they expect owners to recharge at home or office more than 80% of the time. Though slower, that process means drivers would typically have a full charge most of the time.
For those who will turn to public charging stations, Porsche’s Zellmer noted that Taycan buyers will be offered three years of free charging at stations run by Electrify America. EA was created as part of parent Volkswagen’s settlement of its diesel emissions scandal, and is setting up a cross-country network of fast chargers.
Visually, the 2020 Porsche Taycan bears a strong resemblance to the automaker’s conventionally powered four-door model, the Panamera, though the goal was to give it the performance and handling of a classic 911 sports car, Stefan Weckbach, the project manager, told NBCNews.
Inside, Taycan’s cabin gives classic Porsche design a high-tech touch, starting with the 16.8-inch digital instrument cluster. The dashboard features several additional touchscreens, as does the center console. Taycan, meanwhile, becomes the world’s first automobile that will have the ability to directly stream Apple Music through its infotainment system.
One of the key questions surrounding the launch of the Taycan is how it will be received by traditional Porsche buyers. The lack of the classic sports car engine “note” could take such customers by surprise, said Weckbach, though he believes it will be less of a challenge for younger buyers.
Sales of battery-electric vehicles has grown significantly over the last several years, though Tesla has been responsible for most of that surge. Overall, plug-based vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, still account for barely 2% of the overall U.S. motor vehicle market.
But PCNA CEO Zellmer said he is optimistic that “adoption, as a whole, is really at a turning point in the U.S.”
Analysts like Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting, say several factors will be critical to popular acceptance, including the expansion of public charging facilities, the increase in battery range and the availability of more all-electric products. The three models Porsche has coming will join dozens of other BEVs automakers are planning to debut over the next three years.