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The following article is from the December 4th issue of Automotive News.

Porsche approves rival to Tesla Model S in push to move beyond VW scandal


The Porsche Mission E concept, shown, will arrive as a production model in 2020.

PHOTO GALLERY: Porsche Mission E concept







FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- Porsche will build a production version of the Mission E concept as the brand's first all-electric vehicle to take on the Tesla Model S.

Porsche has approved a 1 billion-euro ($1.09 billion) project to produce the battery-powered sports car, the Volkswagen Group unit said today in a statement. It will be manufactured near the company's headquarters in Stuttgart and will create 1,000 jobs.

The model will enter showrooms at the end of the decade, Porsche said.

Porsche caused a stir at the Frankfurt auto show in September when it unveiled the four- seat Mission E concept, whose acceleration to 100 kph (62 mph) in less than 3.5 seconds beats the 911’s 4.2 seconds to reach that speed.

The 600-horsepower Mission E will be designed to drive more than 500km (310 miles) before needing a recharge, Porsche said. The battery can reach 80 percent of capacity in about 15 minutes, about half the time needed by Tesla’s Model S to recharge for a 270-km (168-mile) driving range.

Powerful charger

The car will be charged via an 800-volt charger unit that is twice as powerful as today's quick-charge systems, Porsche said. The Mission E's two electric motors are mounted at the front and rear of the car and its lithium-ion batteries are integrated in the vehicle floor. The vehicle can optionally be charged wirelessly by induction via a coil set into a garage floor.

To assist in operating the vehicle, the car features eye-tracking and gesture-control functions, which include holograms that allow the driver to grab apps out of the air, according to Porsche.

The Mission E will complement a lineup comprising the 911, the smaller Cayman sports car, the Boxster roadster, the four-door Panamera sedan and the Cayenne and Macan SUVs. Porsche’s high-performance 918 Spyder has been sold out as production was limited to safeguard exclusivity.

"We are making a clear statement about the future of the brand," Chairman Wolfgang Porsche said in the statement. "Even in a greatly changing motoring world, Porsche will maintain its front-row position with this fascinating sports car."

Porsche's investment will include a new paint shop and assembly plant at Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. The existing engine factory will expanded for the production of electric motors alongside combustion engines. In addition, the body shop will be enlarged and the Weissach development center will be expanded.

The step is part of efforts by Volkswagen to move beyond a scandal over rigged car-emissions tests. CEO Matthias Mueller, who ran Porsche until late September, has vowed to accelerate and widen development of electric cars amid a reorganization that delegates more decision-making to VW Group’s brands and regional units.

'Better then Tesla'

Porsche’s electric car will be “better than a Tesla,” Mueller said in an interview on Tuesday. “We respect all competitors, also Tesla, and that is the reason why we have taken a close look at the Model S, as well as at every BMW, Mercedes or something else,” said Mueller.

Tesla “did a very good job, especially in terms of connectivity. Some things about the car itself could be better, but OK. That is our competition,” Mueller said.

Porsche and sister unit Audi are among the elite car brands shifting into battery-powered models as Tesla develops into a viable competitor. Deliveries of Tesla’s second vehicle, the Model X crossover, will start later this month, and a more affordable auto is also on its way. The company run by billionaire Elon Musk received glowing reviews for the acceleration and handling of the Model S, a blow to traditional high-end brands.

Porsche is set to sell more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time this year, driven by demand for the $52,600 compact Macan. Tesla is targeting 50,000 to 55,000 deliveries in 2015.

VW Group has said the next generation of its VW-badged Phaeton sedan will be electric and it plans to expand the so-called MQB modular production platform to focus more strongly on long-range plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.


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