Plans for electric Porsche 718 dragged down by battery weight

They might not happen for now, but Porsche could still build an EV sports car

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman T
  • 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman T
  • On location in Spain
  • Image Credit: Autoblog
  • 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman T
  • 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman T
  • 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman T
  • 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman T
  • 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman T

Porsche hasn't decided yet if there will be battery-electric versions of the 718 Cayman and Boxster. According to a report in September last year, the German sports car maker had intended to make a decision by this September. An update on the situation in Car magazine points to Porsche taking another year for a verdict, development not proceeding as hoped. The electric Boxster prototypes on the road being evaluated have so far reinforced the point that lithium-ion batteries are too heavy for a small Porsche sports car — the same conclusion that's doomed an electric 911 until at least the middle of the decade. Dr. Michael Steiner, Porsche's R&D board member, told the outlet, "The acoustic sound doesn’t really play that huge a role with a GT like the Taycan and adding weight is OK. But the additional weight for a sports car, we are not satisfied with today." 

A few executives at the automaker have sketched a vision for electric 718 twins. Porsche could use the new PPE architecture developed with Audi and rumored to be in the running for an electric Audi TT. Barring any other weight savings over the current cars, estimating an additional 440 pounds to install a pack would result in the 718s weighing about 3,550 pounds. With two motors producing a combined 400 horsepower, both vehicles could do roughly 260 miles on a charge on the WLTP protocol. Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, the automaker's head of GT cars, mentioned potential rear-wheel-drive versions, but Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman of the board, was asked about all-wheel drive and responded, "Yes, it needs to be, that makes sense." Although a plug-in hybrid version is also being tested, Walliser said that powertrain wouldn't make sense due to the weight and complexity. It appears that mild hybrid assistance is still a possibility, though.

Outsiders had penciled in the electric 718 for a 2023 release, a date that now seems out of reach. Steiner said what a Porsche sports car is waiting for is "a breakthrough in battery technology, like solid-state batteries," not the 2-3% annual improvement in lithium-ion batteries. Steiner also clarified that the delay of an electric 718 "does not mean there won’t be a sports car." The implication is that the automaker could create something outside the current lineup, developed with battery limitations and future possibilities in mind. 

Meanwhile, Porsche's EV docket is full with the Taycan Cross Turismo due later this year and the electric Macan due next year. Depending on which way the 718 plans go, Meschke said first the Cayenne, then the Panamera occupy the next slots in line for going electric.

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