In 2013, German automakers got their hands on Tesla Model S four-door luxury sports sedans and tore them apart. An industry insider from this country told us that the Model S was a huge shock for Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but perhaps even more so for Porsche, which had enjoyed huge success with its fast four-door Panamera. and sporty.
The Porsche product team had to deal with the arrival of an electric car, from a highly unlikely company, that was as fast, smoother and just as desirable as their main offering. Moreover, this electric vehicle had already attracted some of their most technologically advanced customers.
Prototype for Porsche Taycan, Mission E production
Their answer, the electric Porsche Taycan arriving at the end of 2020, was sleek, extremely fast and the first production electric vehicle with an 800-volt battery. It was a commercial success, with 100,000 copies sold in three years. But the transition to electric vehicles is accelerating and Porsche has many more electric vehicles to launch. The first will be the 2024 Porsche Macan Electric, whose PPE platform and associated technology it was previewed last week at a press conference in Franciacorta, Italy.
Porsche Taycan – European specs
The day included the chance to jostle a current Taycan on the hilly, twisty roads of Lombardy, competing with Fiat 500s and local garbage trucks in equal measure. The Taycan clearly had better acceleration and a lot more grip, but it was a big car on very small roads. We spent a lot of time listening for proximity warning alarms as we hovered over stone walls inches away.
Back in the conference rooms, we asked Porsche executives what lessons they learned from the Taycan. Their answers were often circumspect, but the briefings suggested a lot of knowledge gained between the Taycan and the electric Macan.
This Taycan was first shown as a Porsche Mission E concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, and seven years is a long time in “electric vehicle time”. Here’s our rundown of what Porsche has learned from the Taycan since:
Porsche Taycan charging
The batteries held up better than expected
“We had a very steep learning curve, so we were quite conservative,” said Antoon Janssen, powertrain manager for the Macan Electric. “But the [Taycan] the batteries are in better condition than expected. So we can widen the window of load, temperature, etc. This can be seen in the Macan Electric, which will only have a battery reserve of 2-4% above its usable capacity of 98 kilowatt hours, a lower margin than the Taycan.
2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S
800 volt batteries were the right decision
It’s debatable whether “800 volts is now considered the norm” for electric vehicles, as Michael Steiner, board member for R&D, said at the start of the day. But the Taycan’s 800-volt battery, which both reduces internal coil heat and enables faster charging to 270 kilowatts or more, sets it apart in a number of ways – and was adopted wholesale for the Premium Platform architecture. Electric (PPE) that underpins the upcoming Macan Electric and other models from Audi and Bentley.
Among other benefits, 800 volts offered the promise of an 80% recharge in just 20 to 25 minutes under the right circumstances. That’s a powerful enough fact that even GM has found a way to allow its larger Ultium-based EV models to charge at 800 volts despite having a battery architecture that operates at 400 volts. “Going forward,” Steiner said, “800 Volts will pay off,” suggesting the Taycan may not have lived up to Porsche’s historically lavish profit margins.
1950 Porsche 356 and 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S
Increasing efficiency requires many small improvements
A key improvement from the Taycan’s J1 platform to the electric Macan’s PPE architecture is better and more efficient cooling of the battery, motors and power electronics. Porsche used silicon carbide, rather than silicon, in the rear axle inverter. This is found to reduce electrical losses and allows power switching at higher frequencies.
Powertrain manager Janssen summed it up: “We had a lot of little learnings” about where energy was lost in the Taycan, which resulted in better efficiency for the Macan Electric when they are added together. The range of the electric SUV, with only a slightly larger battery in a much bulkier and less aerodynamic vehicle, will be “much more than the Taycan”.
2021 Porsche Taycan
Major software updates keep customers happy
Rather than making a series of small updates to the car’s operating software, as Tesla does, Porsche opted to bundle a large number of changes into a single update launched last June. More than 50% of the 75,000 Taycans then on the road received the update, despite the fact that it takes almost an entire day and requires a visit to the dealership. (Taycans built since then have the new features downloaded from the factory.)
Among the benefits was a boost to car rated range by allowing the front engine to shut down completely at times when the rear engine alone was enough to power an all-wheel-drive Taycan version.
PPE platform for the VW group, developed by Porsche/Audi
To make a difference, electric vehicles must sell in volume at lower prices
Porsche CEO Oliver Blume promised in March that 80% of all Porsches sold will be battery-electric by 2030. During our briefing, several Porsche executives intoned this commitment almost verbatim. To get there, it will take a lot of electric vehicle sales, quickly. The current gasoline-powered Macan is the brand’s best-selling one, one that appeals to younger buyers new to the brand. It accounts for 80,000 sales a year, more than double that of the Taycan, a surprising success, and its successor will become the second Porsche EV.
The Macan Electric will cost less than the Taycan when it launches in 2024, and it will be followed by an all-electric sports car replacing today’s 718 Boxster and Cayman. Macan, Boxster and Cayman are Porsche’s least expensive models, and they will drive high volumes, although a Larger ‘sporty’ three-row electric luxury SUV is also in the cards, to increase profit margins.
2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S Coupe Hybrid Electric
Plug-in hybrids won’t stay around forever
The Taycan gave the sports car brand confidence that it could create a compelling Porsche that just happened to be electric. But before Blume’s commitment in March, Porsche’s goal was for 80% of its sales to be “electrified” vehicles by 2030. Electrified does not mean electric; that means any vehicle with an electric motor somewhere in the powertrain, including regular old plug-less hybrids.
So its most recent promise – 80% of sales being battery-electric by the same year – indicates that plug-in hybrids will disappear after this decade. However, there could be more in the short term. The other half of his promise was that 50% of Porsche sales in 2025 would be “electrified”, which includes PHEV versions of the large Cayenne SUV and the large Panamera luxury sedan. As noted at the launch of the latest 911 generation, the rear-engined sports coupe and convertible will likely remain the last combustion-engined Porsches, at least until the 2030s, but they will also have a regular hybrid versionand can also get a PHEV variant.
Porsche provided the airfare, accommodation and meals to enable Green Car Reports to bring this report to you in first person.