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New York show: Mission E to change Porsche brand

Small numbers: Porsche Cars North America president and CEO Klaus Zellmer said it is hard to determine the impact the diesel emissions scandal has had on the brand at this stage.

‘Evolutionary change’ for Porsche with production version of Mission E concept

26 Mar 2016


THE introduction later this decade of Porsche’s first all-electric sportscar, based on the Mission E concept, will alter the perception of the iconic brand, according to the company’s North American chief.

Porsche has committed to building a production version of the striking zero-emissions four-door concept that wowed crowds at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, and it will compete with the likes of the Tesla Model S and potentially BMW’s yet-to-be-seen third ‘i’ model that is rumoured to be dubbed i5.

Porsche Cars North America president and CEO Klaus Zellmer said the company is used to people reacting negatively to any major change it proposes, and added that the production model will feature the characteristics of a Porsche sportscar.

“We have a funny feeling that whenever we change something people feel that we are changing the brand,” he told reporters on the Porsche stand at the New York motor show. “Whether it is from air-cooled engines to water-cooled engines, manual transmission to automatic or double-clutch or hybrid technology.

“But yes, it is going to change the brand but I don’t think in a revolutionary way, it has got to be evolutionary.

“We have to make sure that with the battery electric vehicle people feel the Porsche DNA in that car and we are going to make sure of that.”

One Porsche characteristic that is unclear for the Mission E is what it will sound like when accelerating, given its electric powertrain, but Mr Zellmer said the company was hard at work determining how it will work.

“That is the big billion-dollar question. We are not answering that yet. We are currently researching on what is a Porsche sound if it doesn’t come out of the exhaust pipe, but let’s wait and see what we come up with.

“But generally speaking if you drive any electric vehicle, the sheer performance, the power, the acceleration, that is all down the road of what Porsche delivers. The only missing link at the moment is sound and we are working on that.”

Mr Zellmer said the German car-maker was “not ruling out” the use of artificial sounds for the Mission E exhaust note.

The Mission E concept uses an 800-volt drive system generating 440kW of power and offering an electric driving range of more than 500km.

Discussing the ongoing diesel scandal plaguing the Volkswagen Group, Mr Zellmer said the company was trying to determine the impact it has had on the relatively small number of Porsche diesel customers in the United States.

“Any technical issue that we have with our cars is irritating to us and our customers in terms of the impact on our sales volume. In fact the sales volume derived from diesel engines is not really big here in the US. It’s about five per cent.

“But still we are really trying to get this right. We are working closely with the authorities and with our customers, we are keeping them informed and we are doing everything we can and we hope we can resolve this issue soon.”

Mr Zellmer said Porsche was committed to selling diesels in the United States and added that customers who “really love” the German oil-burners “would be really disappointed” if the company stopped selling them.

“The diesel engine from our customer’s pint of view is something they really like, they really want. So let’s see how the whole technical issues with the diesel can be resolved. We are working with the authorities very closely together. If they can solve everything I have a lot of faith in the diesel.”

It was revealed in early November last year that about 10,000 VW Group models powered by the 3.0-litre V6 diesel had been fitted with emissions test-defeating software, including the 2014 VW Touareg, 2015 Porsche Cayenne and 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5.

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