This new Porsche is really fast... at recharging
Zero-to-100kmh times are shorthand for what anybody buying a Porsche is supposed to care about.
But with the all-electric Taycan due out later this year, Porsche executives are talking up a less-exhilarating metric: getting to 100km of charge.
Stepping into the world of electric cars is making even the most hallowed performance brands rethink how they market their vehicles, and Porsche is no exception.
At peak, the Taycan will be able to add more than 100km of charge in four minutes, thanks to an 800-volt battery that can absorb fast-charging rates of up to 350 kilowatts. That's quicker than Tesla owners can achieve at the company's 120kW supercharging stations, which can bring batteries to about an 80 per cent charge in roughly 30 minutes.
The DC fast-charging network currently being developed in New Zealand is less than half that again: 50kW.
"Getting into a car and doing 0-to-60mph [96kmh] in less than three seconds - can you really differentiate yourself if you do it in 2.8 seconds, and the other can do it in 2.7," says Klaus Zellmer, the head of Porsche Cars North America. "There are other factors that will gain importance, such as charging time."
That may sound like blasphemy to some Porsche enthusiasts. But charging times will be a key selling point for carmakers trying to coax consumers into overcoming their fear of being stranded with a dead battery.
Porsche's new four-door sedan is part of a pack of luxury electric vehicles, along with Audi's E-Tron and Jaguar's I-Pace, that are looking to capture some of Tesla's industry-defying magic.
Charging infrastructure is a new perk for would-be buyers. Through a partnership with Electrify America, the charging-network company borne from Volkswagen AG's diesel-emissions scandal, US Taycan owners will get three years of free charging at stations that'll have a minimum of two 350kW chargers per site.
Building long-distance charging infrastructure may not be entirely rational, since about 90 per cent of electric-vehicle charging happens at home. But that hasn't stopped automakers from touting their charging offerings.
This is a new role for automakers who have no real interest in today's network of gas stations that provide fuel for millions of internal combustion cars.
"They really don't care where you charge, but they do care that you feel comfortable that you know you can charge so you'll buy the car," says Brett Smith, director of propulsion technology and energy infrastructure at the non-profit Center for Automotive Research. "For that to happen, the car companies have to get involved."
Having long-distance charging is even less relevant for Porsche owners, Zellmer says, since most will own multiple cars and could take another out of the garage if they're worried about needing to plug in. Still, he said, Porsche has to do it to "comfort" potential buyers.
Driven by regulatory mandates and a profound sense of existential anxiety over Tesla's market capitalisation, automakers are pouring billions into the battery-powered cars. Porsche will spend 6 billion euros by 2022 on electrification and has said more than half its line up will have a plug by 2025.
As for old-fashioned specs, the Taycan is expected to accelerate to 100kmh in faster than 3.5 seconds. It can go about 500km before it runs out of juice.
Porsche is feeling confident, boosting global production capacity for the Taycan to 40,000 from an original 20,000 units. The company says it's responding to strong demand.
Zellmer won't say how many people have coughed up the refundable deposit for the Taycan, but he happily mentions that two-thirds aren't existing Porsche owners. Among those, he says Tesla is the most common brand.