Porsche might not be the first automaker that comes to mind when you think of electrified vehicles. But the German sports car firm has been making cars with plugs for more than 100 years. Ferdinand Porsche was designing and building electric cars as far back as 1898, which is a bit mind-boggling to consider.
A lot of electric car innovation happened at the beginning of the last century. Still, it took until this millennium for battery tech to advance enough to make EVs practical. Porsche was ahead of the curve there, too. The company sold its first plug-in hybrid, the Panamera S E-Hybrid, in 2013 before the all-electric Taycan sedan came out in 2019.
While the Taycan has sold well, expect Porsche’s electric vehicle sales to skyrocket in 2023 when the EV version of the extraordinarily popular Porsche Macan SUV goes on sale. And, as part of the development process, the Macan is now being tested in public for the first time.
The Macan is Porsche’s best-selling vehicle in the US, just beating out the larger Cayenne SUV — though the latter is more popular worldwide. But the EV version, expected in 2023, will go head-to-head with Tesla’s Model Y, as well as a litany of luxury competitors expected to be on the market by then.
The development of a new car is a lengthy process. “We started with a flow-around model when the project first started about four years ago,” Thomas Wiegand, director of aerodynamics development, said in a press release. Low drag coefficients are significant on electric cars because of the hyperfocus on economy and range.
The aero team can make subtle tweaks to different components and optimize the design before a single part is physically created. But equally important to airflow is temperature control. In a press release, Porsche specifically calls out the differences between internal combustion engines, which require a temperature window between 194 and 248 degrees Fahrenheit, and EV components like the motor and battery, which operate optimally between 68 and 158 degrees.
But unlike with a gasoline-powered car, the high-stress times in an EV are during rapid charging, not driving. The Macan EV will use the same 800-volt architecture as the Taycan, allowing for, Porsche says, “typical Porsche E-Performance” including an as-yet-undisclosed long-range, fast-charging, and best-in-class performance.
The most successful electric crossover is the Tesla Model Y, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said that the Model Y could become the best-selling car in the world in the next few years. That would mean more than 1.5 million deliveries per year of the Model Y alone — and paint an even bigger target on Tesla’s back for competitors, if that’s even possible.
“Porsche has already started paving its way with the excellent Taycan electric sports sedan that competes with the Tesla Model S,” Matt Degen, editor at Kelley Blue Book, tells Inverse. “It’s only natural for the brand to create a rival to the Tesla Model Y in the popular SUV segment.”
Perhaps the most curious part of the whole thing is the fact that Porsche is sharing these photos of its camouflaged car. For decades, automotive spy photographers have camped out to snag pictures of unannounced vehicles in a cat-and-mouse game between engineers who need to test vehicles in real-world conditions and publications eager to showcase the latest wares.
These days, the ubiquity of smartphones and social media makes it even harder for carmakers to test vehicles without anyone noticing. The next best thing, it seems, is to embrace it and publish them as part of a press release.
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