Porsche Says New High-Performance Mission E Electric Car Is Not A Tesla Model S Hunter

Porsche will mark its 70 birthday with a $7.4 billion investment to vault the German performance carmaker into the electric age. The funds will help Porsche electrify one-third of its lineup by 2022, introduce its first battery-powered sports car and SUV, and create a fast-charging network.

When it arrives next year, the Mission E is expected to exceed 600 horsepower, reach 60 m.p.h. in under 3.5 seconds, hit a top speed of 155 m.p.h., and travel more than 300 miles on a fully charged battery. Though the numbers rival the only other high-performance electric sedan currently on the market, executives insisted that the new model is not meant to challenge the Tesla Model S. “Tesla is not a benchmark for us,” Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said at the company’s annual press conference on Friday.

The investment includes more than $859 million for a new factory at Porsche’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, with the eventual goal to produce 20,000 Mission E’s annually. The saloon, whose production name has not been confirmed, will be sized between Porsche’s 911 sports car and Panamera sedan and priced similar to the latter, which starts in the mid $80,000s. Production calls for a new platform, which will be shared by the Mission E Cross Turismo, a forthcoming crossover version unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, and an additional 1,200 workers.

The key differentiator between the Mission E and its rivals will be its quick charging time, said Dr. Robert Meier, a senior director from the battery-electric program. The car is expected to reach an 80% charge in 15 minutes when equipped with an 800-volt battery and in 40 minutes with its standard 400-volt battery. Porsche will enter the car next year in the Formula E racing series, where it expects to learn more about the car’s engine and thermal management systems in order to tweak production models.

The focus on battery power follows a record year for Porsche, with global sales up 4%, and is part of a larger effort within its Volkswagen Group parent company to distance itself from diesel engines and launch more electric vehicles. Last week, VW said it would invest $25 billion in battery supplies to equip 16 factories that will produce dozens of new models.

Meanwhile, part of the $7.4 billion investment will support Porsche’s bid to become the leading provider of digital mobility in premium segment, executives said. That includes hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked over the next two years to build a network of fast-charging stations and support the development of connected services, which are projected to generate 10% of Porsche’s revenues in the “mid-term,” said Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman of the executive board.

But Porsche, which recently built its 1 millionth 911, says it has no plans to make self-driving cars. “We don’t envision any Porsche without a steering wheel,” said Detlev von Platen, a member of the executive board for sales and marketing. Autonomous capabilities might be useful for certain situations, such as navigating gridlock or showing the racing lines on a track before handing control to the driver, but “it needs to make sense for Porsche expectations and values,” said von Platen. “Driving a Porsche in a traffic jam, I’m not sure this is the heart of the fascination.”

Tech, CarsJaclyn TropForbes