Porsche is jumping into the electric car business.
The German sports car company has announced its all-electric Mission E sports car. The concept vehicle, which will be on sale within five years, boasts a 600 horsepower motor, a range of more than 300 miles, and a recharging time of under 15 minutes.
Unveiled at the ongoing Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany, the sleek Mission E is an all-wheel-drive, all-wheel-steering battery-powered street car.
After many years in development, and one year of active prototyping, the concept car moves one step closer to reality, said Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche's global head of research and development.
"We were asked many times, 'Why don't you do a pure battery car?'" Hatz said by telephone from Frankfurst, hours before the unveiling. "We said it would happen when we can really deliver performance, reliability, and driving range. And now the time is right."
Hatz said the concept is "very close" to getting approval to move to the production phase, but declined to identify a likely model year or a price -- except to say it would be competitively priced for its target buyer.
"It will be competitive," Hatz said. "The Porsche is always worth its price."
Analysts were excited by the news, and gave credit to a certain California electric car company for inspiring Porsche to pursue battery electric performance.
"The short answer can be summed up in one word -- Tesla," said Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer. "Telsa and its CEO, Elon Musk, have demonstrated to all other manufacturers the appeal of a 300-mile-range, high-performance electric car. It's a wealthy and not very huge market, but there is a group of people who will spend more than $100,000 on a car with that kind of performance and that kind of range."
The proposed performance specifications are impressive, Porsche said. The four-door, four-passenger Mission E vehicle will be capable of zero-to-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds, and will get to 120 miles per hour in under 12 seconds.
Using the auto industry's first 800-volt electrical system, the Mission be will be able to charge to 80% of total battery capacity in 15 minutes -- when, that is, a system of 800-volt charging stations are built.
It will also feature some dramatically futuristic electronics. An eye-tracking system, able to sense what part of the dashboard the driver is looking at, will highlight that part of the dash and expand options within specific gauges without driver input.
Hatz insisted the car is not intended to fight for customers with California-based Tesla Motors, whose Model S all-electric sedan typically sells for about $100,000.
"We don't do a car because Telsa has done a Model S," he said. "We have our own plans. The time was not right before now to bring a pure battery car onto the market. But now the time is right."
And the new vehicle will be, above all things, a Porsche, said Detlev von Platen, CEO of Porsche Cars North America -- a point underscored by the company's simultaneous unveiling of an all-new 911 featuring improved chassis, turbocharging and fuel economy.
"With this car, we are not forgetting our icon, and our center of gravity," Von Platen said. "This car allows us to maintain the credibility of Porsche."