The production version of the Porsche Mission E – its real name as yet unknown – is still some time away, perhaps as much as two years. The company has confirmed that Mission E is go, with Porsche member of the executive board for research and development, Michael Steiner, telling CarAdvice at the 2016 Paris motor show that progress is moving along nicely.
“Serial development has started already, we are just in the phase where we are at the end of the virtual development process, and we are testing hardware performance in mule cars and things like that. Sometime in the future we will build the first prototypes for testing,” Steiner said.
The chances of just one car being built using the same Volkswagen Group-sourced underpinnings is unlikely, even under the Porsche brand banner.
Steiner confirmed that the underpinnings are capable of more than one body style, and of different philosophical applications, too.
“The conceptual design of the Mission E once again gives us technically the potential to do more with this platform, and also we think about if the battery electric business will be fast growing and we think that the whole business will change, most probably pretty fast at some trigger point.
“That should be not the only battery electric car,” Steiner asserted.
So, what could join the Mission E production car? And what will that car look like when it makes its real-world debut?
“Mission E will be as close as possible to what you saw in Frankfurt,” Steiner said. ”So if you would this a sedan, then it is a sedan; but we would think it much more a really sport four-door coupe.”
“In general we think what could be a second or third step, and also in terms of the platform of Mission E there is no reason why this has to be only a one body-style platform,” Steiner said.
“But if you look back, when we have done a new segment, we always have started with one variant and then it depends a little bit how this develops, how the sales are moving on, and how the segment is developing as a whole; whether we add variants or not,” he added.
“But technically our platforms are designed in a way that you could do more,” he said, before being asked about the potential for an all-electric SUV.
“With some modifications you could do something. Usually it’s technically not so complicated to devise a higher vehicle than the other way around.
“It could be one step, but on the other hand within the Volkswagen Group we have also potential maybe to use components of that platform for the basis of development for the next vehicle,” he said of upcoming Audi Q6 EV.
“So this is really, completely, a white sheet of paper, where we have some ideas but we are far away to decide the next steps now, and there is good reason we don’t do this now.
“You should have as much knowledge as possible of the acceptance of the first battery electric driven vehicles, and some, at least some, feedback from your first customers before you do the next step,
“Otherwise it would be really risky. So usually we try to be prepared, but decide as late as possible. The probability that you have the right decision is higher. You never know,” Steiner said. “This is far ahead – I’m happy to have some time.”
The benefits of spawning different models off the same architecture, particularly with electric cars, is that there’s less complexity in design and engineering and therefore lower costs compared with conventionally-powered cars or SUVs.
“There are good reasons that it should be, cost-wise, a little bit easier and also faster to do derivatives of battery-driven vehicles,” Steiner said. “But the main difference from my point of view is not of the development of the next car or derivative, but its cost to stay in line with emissions regulations you have with combustion engines.
And in a final little hint as to when the first production electric car will be on sale from Porsche, Steiner added: “Ask me maybe in two years or three years, then maybe I’ll know a little bit more. It’s also brand new for us.”