As Porsche prepares to launch its first-ever all-electric vehicle, it’s hoping to separate itself from the competition by claiming the industry’s quickest charging times.
When its Taycan sports car goes on sale next year, it will be able to charge 80% of its battery in 15 minutes, “which is almost the same if you fill up your gas tank and have a cup of coffee,” Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO for Porsche Cars North America, told Fortune at this weekend’s Rennsport Reunion, a semi-annual gathering of Porsche enthusiasts in Monterey, Calif.
By comparison, Tesla models require closer to half an hour at a supercharger network to achieve roughly the same charge. Jaguar’s new all-electric SUV, the I-Pace, needs about 45 minutes to charge 80% of its battery. However, experts note that the 350 kilowatt-hour charging Porsche plans to offer at its network of stations would be difficult to maintain across different battery levels.
Porsche, which is investing $7.4 billion to electrify half of its lineup by 2025, is among a spate of luxury automakers scrambling to distance themselves from diesel and build high-performance, battery-powered sports cars within the next few years. Polestar and Aston Martin each plan to launch a Tesla Model S competitor in 2019, while Jaguar introduced the I-Pace earlier this year to challenge the Tesla Model X. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi also revealed forthcoming electric models this month.
“We don’t need and don’t want to be the first,” said Detlev von Platen, Porsche’s executive board member for sales and marketing.
Instead, Porsche is hoping that its customer base will buy its electric models on the strength of their driving dynamics and performance. The 600-horsepower Taycan sports car boasts a lower center of gravity than Porsche’s current high performer, the 911 GT3, due to the placement of its battery pack and can reach 60 mph from standstill in less than 3.5 seconds.
“It doesn’t make any sense to drive fast and then wait two hours to charge batteries,” von Platen said. Achieving an 80% charge in a quarter of an hour is an “argument for us.”
Several premium car companies are honing their technology through the four-year-old Formula E racing series for electric vehicles. Porsche plans to join next year. “Every premium brand will be there,” von Platen said. “It’s a perfect technology transfer platform for us.”
Porsche executives say they have already seen encouraging signs of demand for electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids comprise about 60% of Panamera sedan sales in Europe. With an annual production run of 20,000, the Taycan is expected to sell well in areas with electric vehicle subsidies including California and Norway, where it has taken 2,000 pre-orders for Taycan. The automaker also anticipates strong demand in China, Porsche’s largest market for the last three years.
“Even if you’re not looking for an EV, I’m convinced there will be a lot of customers driving it for performance,” said Michael Steiner, Porsche research and development executive board member.
The automaker’s challenge is to not alienate its fans – the kind that turned out for the weekend’s events in Monterey – while creating an electric car with entirely new characteristics.
“We were very strong on the fact that we didn’t want an artificial sound, something made on a machine,” von Platen said. “It won’t be a V8 sound or a Boxster sound.”