In the wake of Dieselgate, Volkswagen has been cutting costs left and right in order to prepare for the many, many billions of dollars in fines it’ll need to shell out. As a result, it’s had to make some very difficult decisions. First, it gutted its design department — up until this year one of the most advanced and well-funded centers in the world — losing legendary chief designer Walter de Silva in the process. Then it announced it would be scaling back its endurance racing program, which between Audi, Bentley, and Porsche has taken 15 of the last 16 checkered flags at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now it’s indicated that it’s prepared to shed brands from its portfolio (like MAN trucks, Ducati, Lamborghini, and Bentley), should the situation call for it.
But surprisingly, amidst the chaos, one resource-heavy project won’t get the axe: its Tesla-killer.
Back in September, we reported on Porsche’s Mission E concept, a bold four-door electric car that was the closest thing we’d ever seen to realistically taking on the Tesla Model S. Debuting at the Geneva motor show, we said:
The Mission E is gorgeous. The Tesla Model S is one of the best-looking cars on the road, and yet somehow the designers at Porsche have created an even more attractive sedan in the form of the Mission E concept. Granted, it’s a concept and not a production vehicle, but when you consider what happened the last time Porsche tried to design a sedan, the Mission E is even more of an achievement.
If we were impressed then, we don’t know what to call ourselves now, because in the wake of the brand’s turmoil, it’s officially given the car the green light. If all goes according to plan, the Mission E will reach dealerships by 2020, giving the Model S its first serious competitor, and potentially elevating Porsche to the top of the EV segment.
In the post-Tesla world, the Mission E — if it reaches production resembling the concept — is a latter-day supercar in every sense of the word. Like the Model S, it’s powered by a dual-motor setup, which produces 600 horsepower and takes the 2-ton car from a standstill to 60 in 3.2 seconds. Its battery system is derived from the 2015 Le Mans-winning Porsche 919, giving the car 310 miles of range, and allowing it to recover 80% charge in 15 minutes via a cutting-edge 800-volt charging system. And if plugs and wires are too old-fashioned for you, Porsche is even working on a coil system that could be installed in an owner’s garage and would allow the Mission E to be charged wirelessly.
With the big V8, transmission, and fuel tank removed and replaced by a battery pack under the floor (a la Tesla), it succeeds where the Panamera still can’t: namely as both a sedan and an attractive Porsche. And in these trying times, the brand is apparently unafraid to go all-in on its untested EV. The company has officially announced that it will commit 700 million euros (that’s $761,950,000) to building a new assembly plant and paint shop for the car, creating 1,000 new jobs in the process. Perhaps most impressively, it plans on doing all this before 2020, even though it’s likely Volkswagen AG will still be reeling from Dieselgate.
When the Mission E debuted at Geneva, it looked likely that it would reach production. After all, it was impressively thought out for a concept, both aesthetically and mechanically. But now that it’s been given the green light for production, we’re left to grapple with how advanced it truly is. Tesla may not have immediately inspired the world’s premium auto brands to develop EV powertrains, but now with Porsche — and by extension the entire Volkswagen portfolio — entering the fray, it seems likely that in 10 years time, luxury and performance car segments will have their fair share of pure EVs. Going into the next decade, will the Mission E overtake the Model S, and rule the electric roost? Porsche says: “Tomorrow does not yet exist but our dreams do. So we get to work today, like always. Because ‘tomorrow’ will be what we make it. And if we can create the future in our heads, it will meet us halfway.”
Flowery language or not, we sure like the sound of it.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.
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