Porsche takes on Tesla with its Mission E concept car that can charge in 15 minutes
Porsche has unveiled its first all-electric sports car at the Frankfurt Motor Show, becoming the latest brand to incorporate rechargeable battery technology into its vehicles (+ slideshow).
Porsche has joined the trend with a four-door concept car called Mission E, which can be charged in 15 minutes and has a potential driving range of 500 kilometres (310 miles).
Electric and hybrid vehicles are increasingly becoming the focus for car manufacturers. Elon Musk's solely electric car brand Tesla has been leading the way in this sector since 2003, but companies including Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley and McLaren all unveiled models that use the technology at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in March.
Porsche's Mission E features a newly developed 800-volt battery system that "reduces charging time to just slightly longer than it takes to fill a car's fuel tank today," according to a statement released by German manufacturer Volkswagen Group, which produces Porsche's vehicles.
Fifteen minutes at a quick-charge station would provide enough charge for 80 per cent of the car's total driving range. Two motors delivering power to the wheels have also been developed to recover the energy produced when the vehicle's brakes are applied. This energy-recovery system acts to optimise overall efficiency.
"The Mission E is a concept car for a purely electric four-seater which is practical," said head of Volkswagen Matthias Muller at the launch event this week. "It demonstrates what we feel electric sports cars must be like to deserve the name Porsche."
"The potential range is 500 kilometres while driving in a very sporty manner; please note that," continued Muller. "There's the compromise between sportiness and everyday usability – something that our customers have grown used to expecting of a Porsche."
Tesla, which announced the increased range of its Roadster late last year, has already noticed Porsche's desire to create an all-electric vehicle capable of matching the performance of its cars.
"Tesla has built an exceptional car," said Muller at Porsche's annual press conference in March 2015. "They have a very pragmatic approach and set the standard, where we have to follow up now."
The resulting Porsche Mission E achieves its driving range thanks to a number of efficiencies, including the design of its body, which is made up of aluminium, steel and a carbon-fibre polymer. The materials were chosen to improve strength while keeping weight to a minimum, and the vehicle's curvaceous shape has been created to optimise its aerodynamics.
Distinctive air inlets and outlets positioned on the vehicle's front, rear and sides help to manage the movement of air around the car, resulting in a reduction of wind resistance and improved handling.
The vehicle's aerodynamics are further enhanced due to a lack of wing mirrors, which have been replaced by small cameras mounted on the sides.
Inside, the furnishings have been pared back to further reduce overall weight, while the central console between both the front seats extends upwards like a bridge to the dashboard.
The instrument cluster located behind the steering wheel comprises five round digital displays, which move according to the seated position of the driver thanks to an eye-tracking system.
"The display follows the seat position and body attitude of the driver in what is known as a parallax effect," said Porsche in its statement. "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," continued Porsche.
The eye-tracking system can also monitor which controls the driver is focusing on. The driver can then access more information by pressing a button on the steering wheel.
An additional holographic display showing a selection of apps, such as navigation, climate control and media, is located below the driver's instrument panel and extends over to the passenger's side. Sensors allow each to be accessed and controlled via gestures.
"A grasping gesture means select, while pulling means control," said Porsche.
The Porsche Mission E was unveiled at this year's IAA Frankfurt motor show in Germany, which opened to the public today and continues until 27 September 2015.