Ten years ago when little-known Californian startup Tesla Motors was drumming up interest for its two-seat sports car, very few established prestige and sports brands even stopped to take note of the funny little roadster and its extraordinary claims about what the car of the near future would be like.
Now, those same automakers are trying to play catch up in an attempt to recapture the market share that Tesla and its highly-acclaimed Model S took from them with high-budget plans to bring their own electrified, high-performance, long-range cars to market.
After years of ridiculing electricity as the fuel of the future, it seems the old adage is right: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Earlier today at the 2015 International Auto Show in Frankfurt, Germany, that’s exactly what German prestige brand Porsche did with the unveiling of the 2018 Porsche Mission E Sports Sedan Concept.
Powered by an all-electric drivetrain which Porsche says develops close to 600 horsepower (443 kilowatts), the Porsche Mission E Sports Sedan Concept is a four-door, high-performance sedan that Porsche has designed from the ground up to be sleek, practical and unlike anything the brand has made before. That said, we think the family influence is clear, with both Porsche Panamera and Porsche 911 design elements clearly visible.
Like the Tesla Model S 70D, Tesla Model S 85D and Tesla Model S 90D, Porsche’s new concept car offers all-wheel drive capability thanks to two powerful electric motors. With one driving the front axle and one driving the rear, power can be sent to whichever wheel needs it for maximum road holding capabilities. As those familiar with electric motors will know, this system — known as torque vectoring — enables a far more responsive and immediate shift of power than is possible with a traditional gasoline engine.
In addition, all-wheel steering should mean that the Porsche Mission E literally sticks to even the most demanding of roads, something we’re sure helped a Porsche test driver achieve a sub 8-minute lap time on the world-famous Nürburgring Nordschleife race track in Germany.
Interestingly however, the Porsche Mission E isn’t as fast as the Tesla Model S P90D in its 0-62 mph sprint, taking 3.5 seconds versus the 2.8 seconds of the recently-announced Model S 90D. Unless you’re a hardened drag racing fan, we’re guessing those seven tenths of a second won’t matter too much in everyday driving.
Sadly, Porsche hasn’t detailed the capacity of the lithium-ion battery pack used inside its Mission E, but has indicated a range of 310 miles should be possible on the NEDC test cycle. Given how optimistic that particular test cycle is, we’d recommend that figure is taken with a pinch of salt: a range of 270 miles is far more likely in the real world.
That places the Porsche Mission E with a lower real-world range than the Tesla Model S on paper at least. But while it may have a smaller range, Porsche does have a trick up its sleeve that even Tesla can’t manage: a 15-minute recharge time from empty to 80 percent full.
Made possible with what appears to be an 800-volt proprietary charging system, the Porsche Mission E lays claim to the fastest recharge time of any electric car today — although we suspect the majority of users would recharge using the included inductive charging system or 400-volt three-phase Type 2 charging system found across Europe.
Inside the high-performance concept car, there are also some innovative and futuristic elements which set it aside from Tesla’s high-end Model S. Like the Audi e-tron Quattro Concept SUV we featured yesterday, rear-view cameras replace the standard rear-view mirrors found on production cars today. While Tesla wanted to include cameras rather than mirrors on its production Model X SUV, legislative red-tape meant it was forced to use traditional mirrors on the upcoming Model X, but there’s a possibility rules could change worldwide in time for the 2018 Porsche Mission E’s production.
Perhaps most worthy of a mention however is the futuristic holographic dashboard, which displays pertinent information in a virtual space in front of both driver and passenger. Interaction with the display is possible by simply reaching out and pointing at the relevant information in three-dimensional space, something we’ve not seen on a production vehicle to date.
It’s clear from Porsche’s latest concept car that Tesla Motors [NSDAQ:TSLA] and its high-tech Model S and Model X electric cars are seen by the German automaker as a clear and present danger.
But will the Mission E be enough to sway consumers back to Porsche after experiencing Tesla’s innovative approach to the automotive industry?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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