The story of the Mission E doesn’t even begin at Porsche. Our story starts in southern California; Elon Musk has just unveiled a new Tesla called the Model S. The Model S offers superlative levels of practicality, refinement, performance and efficiency and with a range of over 350km a heavy dose of practicality. Tesla has scuppered the plans of all major car manufacturers by pre-empting the electric revolution. The Model S is such a disruption to the status quo that manufacturers start scrambling to come up with their own electric cars. The Model S shows that electric cars are not just about being clean and efficient, but can be extremely desirable as well.
When a previously unknown company comes out of the gates with its second product and starts selling 40,000 cars a year at prices that are on the upper end of mass production cars, you know they’re on to something.
One of the usurpers to Tesla’s crown is Porsche. Porsche builds some of the world’s most comprehensively engineered cars. Porsche is all about continuous improvement and they do it in the best possible way, racing. Competition improves the breed and no one understands this better than Porsche. As a company, it has won more races than any other manufacturer on the planet. So to get a running start on the electrically powered future, Porsche returned to endurance racing. Their combined efforts in Prototype and GT racing have resulted in the mind bending 918 Spyder (road car) and now the Mission E.
In presenting the Mission E at the IAA in Frankfurt, Porsche is introducing the first all-electrically powered four-seat sports car in the brand’s history. The concept car combines the unmistakable emotional design of a Porsche with excellent performance and the forward-thinking practicality of the first 800-volt drive system.
The drive system of the Mission E is entirely new, yet it is typical Porsche due to its proven motor racing pedigree. Two permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSM) – similar to those used in this year’s Le Mans victor, the 919 hybrid – accelerate the sports car and recover braking energy. Together the two motors produce over 600 hp, and they propel the Mission E to a speed of 100 km/h in less than 3.5 seconds and to 200 km/h in under twelve seconds. In addition to their high efficiency, power density and uniform power development, they offer another advantage; unlike today’s electric drive systems, they can develop their full power even after multiple accelerations at short intervals. The all-wheel drive system with Porsche Torque Vectoring, transfers the drive system’s power to the road, and all-wheel steering gives precise, sporty steering in the desired direction.
It is not just passionate sportiness that makes up a Porsche but also a high level of everyday practicality. Accordingly, the Mission E can travel over 500 km on one battery charge, and it can be charged with enough energy for around 400 km more driving range in approximately fifteen minutes. This new advancement is a result of Porsche being a front-runner in introducing innovative 800-volt technology for the first time. Doubling the voltage – compared to today’s electric vehicles that operate at 400 volts – offers multiple advantages: shorter charging times and lower weight, because lighter, smaller gage copper cables are sufficient for energy transport. A moveable body segment on the front left wing in front of the driver’s door gives access to the charging port for the innovative “Porsche Turbo Charging” system. Via the 800-volt port, the battery can be charged to approximately 80 per cent of its capacity in around 15 minutes – a record time for electric vehicles. As an alternative, the technology platform can be connected to a conventional 400-volt charging station, or it can be replenished at home in the garage via convenient inductive charging by simply parking over a coil embedded in the floor of the garage from which the energy is transferred without cables, to a coil on the car’s underbody.
The Design of the Mission E previews the future of Porsche design. I’d bet good money that with a few minor proportional changes and reducing the number of doors on this car previews the next 911.
The Mission E is unmistakably Porsche. From the rounded flowing design of the wings and haunches to the very 911 inspired roof line, the Mission E borrows a lot from Porsches past, but with a treatment that is cutting edge. Modern manufacturing techniques and lighting technology mean that the mission E looks like it’s from the near future.
The front is dominated by the large smiling bonnet cutline and the 4 element headlights in their latest avatar. The profile of the Mission E is very classically proportioned and the long hood, balanced over hangs and the swooping roofline are all there. The Mission E rides low and planted and sits on massive staggered 19 and 20 inch wheels front and back.
Distinctive air inlets and outlets – on the front, sides and at the rear – typify the body’s full flow-through design that enhances efficiency and performance. Integrated air guides improve airflow around the wheels, for instance, and air outlets on the sides reduce overpressure in the wheel wells, thereby reducing lift.
The interior of the Mission E extrapolates all of the traditional Porsche design principles into the future: openness, purist design, clean architecture, driver orientation and everyday practicality. The all-electric drive concept made it possible to fully reinterpret the interior. The lack of a transmission tunnel, for instance, opens up space and gives a lighter and more airy atmosphere to the entire interior. Race bucket seats served as inspiration for the four single seats. Between the front seats, the centre console – elegantly curved like a bridge with open space beneath it – extends up to the dashboard.
Display and controls
A new world based on innovative display and control concepts opens up before the driver. It is intuitive, fast and free of distractions – created for the sports car of tomorrow. The filigree driver’s display is curved, low-profile and free-standing. The controls are just as innovative. An eye-tracking system detects, via camera, which instrument the driver is viewing. The driver can then activate the menu of the instrument in focus by pushing a button on the steering wheel and navigate in it – which also involves interplay of eye-tracking and manual activation. The display also follows the seat position and body attitude of the driver in what is known as a parallax effect. If the driver sits lower, higher or leans to one side, the 3D display of the round instruments reacts and moves with the driver. This eliminates situations in which the steering wheel blocks the driver’s view of certain key information, for instance. All relevant information such as vehicle speed is always within the driver’s line of sight.
Holographic display with touch-free gesture control
The entire dashboard showcases a plethora of new ideas. Its division into two three-dimensionally structuring layers reinforces the impression of lightness and clarity. The upper layer integrates the driver’s display, and between the levels there is a holographic display that extends far into the passenger’s side. It shows individually selectable apps, which are stacked in virtual space and arranged by priority with a three-dimensional effect. The driver – or passenger – can use these apps touch-free to control primary functions such as media, navigation, climate control, contacts and vehicle. The desired symbol is activated by gestures that are detected by sensors. A grasping gesture means select, while pulling means control. Moreover, driver or passenger can use a touch display on the centre console to control secondary functions such as detailed information menus.
Porsche have built the Mission E concept as a rolling laboratory for ideas and technologies that may underpin future Porsches. If the Mission E is anything to go by, it looks like an extremely bright future.