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Porsche getting Taycan-ready in Australia
Experience of plug-in hybrids in Oz helps Porsche smooth way for all-electric Taycan
13 Dec 2019
PORSCHE Cars Australia (PCA) is taking everything it has implemented and learnt from introducing and expanding its plug-in hybrid range “up a notch” in readiness for the arrival of its all-electric Taycan four-door coupe in the fourth quarter of next year.
Guided by standards set by Porsche headquarters in Zuffenhausen – where the Taycan is built – and applying knowledge of the Australian market, the project to prepare for Taycan and other full-electric models including the second-generation Macan medium SUV that will be unveiled in 2021 is well underway.
But a lot of detail work remains to be done over the next 10 months or so in the run-up to what is not only Porsche’s first full-electric series production model, but the rare introduction of a new nameplate to the 71-year-old brand.
A non-equity partnership with a fast-charging network infrastructure operator to facilitate long-distance journeys will be announced in the New Year – likely around the same time as Australian Taycan pricing and specifications are revealed – but in the meantime, PCA is ensuring its dealership network has sufficient charging capacity and high-voltage training in place.
One of the key considerations at a dealership level is the ability of local electricity infrastructure to cope with the installation and use of rapid chargers powerful enough for what is the first production car capable of accepting up to 270kW of DC charge at 800 volts.
Depending on the size of dealership, on-site rapid charging may be offered to customers, but charging of vehicles prior to delivery while in for service or even in the showroom is also being studied.
Although expected to be a rare occurrence, the ability to swap out an entire battery pack also a requirement.
Speaking with GoAuto at the Cayenne Coupe launch in Canberra this week, PCA head of public relations Chris Jordan said the company has “worked with every Porsche Centre to look at their electricity infrastructure and what’s required”.
“Our dealers have charging available in the public car park, the service area, they’ve thought about charging cars in the showroom area; there’s more work to do but at least it’s a start.”
Asked whether PCA was putting in extra hard yards now to future-proof itself for the inevitable proliferation of full-electric and electrified models, Mr Jordan said the company philosophy was “measure twice, cut once”.
“We are doing it to the usual Porsche standard… there are more EVs coming but we just ask to be judged by what we do more than what we say.”
Mr Jordan added that chargers are also being rolled out at Wilson Parking facilities in metropolitan centres and destination chargers are being installed in key regional locations, such as the St Andrews Beach Brewery on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Free for Porsche customers to use, access to these Porsche-branded 11kW AC units for drivers of other vehicles is at the discretion of the location owner.
The Taycan-readiness project is led by PCA head of product Ingo Appel, who joined the company in 2006 when it was still getting used to having an SUV in the line-up with the Cayenne and selling around 1200 cars a year.
He has since worked across many areas of the business as it entered new segments with the Panamera limousine in 2009 and Macan in 2014 that contributed to sales breaking the 4000-unit barrier in 2015 and peaking at 4484 in 2017, placing him well to oversee the shift toward electrification that will impact almost all departments of PCA.
Mr Appel told GoAuto that PCA “has a bit of flexibility for market adaptation” when it came to preparing for Taycan, but that there were “certain global requirements for dealerships to get Taycan-ready”.
“Whatever we do we need to be considering the Australian market,” added Mr Jordan.
“Almost nothing we do is an absolute carbon copy (of Germany) but at the same time consistency is important too.”
Mr Appel said he expected between 80 and 90 per cent of Taycan customers to primarily charge their vehicle at home, based on experience with owners of existing Porsche plug-in hybrids, the first of which was the facelifted first-generation Panamera that launched in 2014.
Acknowledging that Porsche customers are of a demographic that tends to have a private garage or other off-street parking arrangement at home, Mr Appel said the difference would be fitment of higher-powered AC home chargers and that PCA was already used to the process of assessing, preparing and facilitating home charging for its customers.
However, unlike plug-in hybrids that can continue on petrol power once the battery pack is exhausted, PCA recognises that it must cater to Taycan owners who venture further afield.
“More focus comes on charging infrastructure as well, where customers are going to charge when they travel,” said Mr Appel.
“That’s where highway charging is definitely the focus and destination charging as well.”
Mr Appel said the process was challenging and detailed, while Mr Jordan added that it had so far been free of major obstacles.
“Everything really just needs to go up a notch from plug-in hybrid to battery electric vehicles,” said Mr Jordan.
“We’ve been selling plug-in hybrids for some time, so that was the first step in this direction.”
“Even if it’s just a thought process, it’s good that it’s already there (with plug-in hybrids) and not starting from scratch.”
The plug-in hybrid version of Porsche’s second-generation Panamera was introduced to Australia in 2017, while the Cayenne followed suit in 2018 and this year added the Turbo S E-Hybrid as flagship petrol-electric performance SUV, available on both conventional and just-launched coupe body styles.
“It’s an exciting time (and) aside from an EV we don’t add another nameplate very often,” said Mr Jordan.
“That in itself is quite a big deal for us, let alone the fact it is the first-ever electric Porsche sportscar.”
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