While it may not be quite as well known as that of the Porsche family, the Piech name is equally storied among automotive insiders and enthusiasts. Together, these frequently squabbling relatives can lay claim to having helped create two of the European industry’s most important brand names: Porsche and Volkswagen. And now, the Piech name will be applied to a new sports car being launched as part of a new, all-electric marque based in Switzerland.
Piech Automotive plans to have its first model, the GT2, in showrooms late in 2022, with at least two other models to follow.
The company might be dismissed as just one of the many startups hoping to profit from the global transition from internal combustion to electric propulsion, but there are several reasons why it deserves a closer look. The most significant is the fact that it is being run by a high-powered group of former Porsche, BMW, Tesla and Volkswagen executives, notably including one Matthias Mueller.
Mueller was a one-time head of the Porsche brand and rose to become the CEO of Volkswagen AG after the German automaker’s diesel emissions scandal broke in 2015. He was subsequently ousted in a boardroom coup three years later, replaced by Herbert Diess who had been recruited from BMW.
Mueller now will serve as the chairman of Piech Automotive and his appointment comes at a critical time.
The BEV startup first showed off what was then called the Piech Mark Zero concept at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show and has been pushing for funding ever since. It expects the next funding round underway now will help it raise enough capital to take the sports car into production – newly renamed the Piech GT2.
In what is now the norm for electric vehicle design, the GT2 will rely on a skateboard-like platform that will be flexible enough to handle multiple “top hats,” or bodies, with two more apparently in development, according to the company.
Also in an approach becoming quite common among high performance BEV brands, the GT2 will rely on a three-motor layout, one on the front axle, two in the rear. The combined package set to deliver 450 kilowatts of power, or 603 horsepower. That will be enough, Piech claims, to hit 100 kph, or 62 mph, in “under three seconds.”
While the size of the battery pack hasn’t been disclosed, the two-seater is said to have a range of 310 miles using a long-range pack, and 250 miles with the standard one. These are based on the European WLTP test cycle so, if the Piech GT2 comes to the U.S., it would likely come in 10 to 20% lower.
Recharging, meanwhile, will take as little as 40 minutes and 40 seconds from empty to 80% of capacity, Piech claims. While details of the sports car’s electric architecture hasn’t been released that would clearly indicate it can use the latest 350 kilowatt public fast chargers and operates at or above 800 volts.
Currently, the only vehicle capable of using such chargers to their full capacity is the Porsche Taycan, though it is expected to become more the norm in the years ahead as it brings charging times down to what motorists currently expect when filling a gas tank.
As for the Piech name, it is one of the family branches of the family tree linked to Ferdinand Porsche. He’s the engineering genius who helped create the original “people’s car,” or Volkswagen, and who later went on to lend his name to the eponymous Porsche sports car company.
His most notable heir, at least within the auto industry, was Ferdinand Piech who was named Volkswagen AG CEO in 1992 and later became the company’s chairman. Piech eventually became embroiled in the diesel scandal and other controversies. He died in August 2019 at the age of 82.
Mueller, who was considered a Piech protégé, will join an assortment of former industry leaders running the new EV startup. That includes its new technical director, Klaus Schmidt, who was once a senior figure at BMW Motorsport, as well as Jochen Rudat, who set up Tesla’s European distribution network.