The sights and sounds of Porsche’s future were everywhere at the Porsche Experience Center (PEC), nestled amongst the vineyards in this celebrated wine-growing region on the outskirts of Milan, Italy. During a day of workshop presentations outlining how the automaker plans to significantly reduce its ecological footprint in all facets of its business operations, every so often the distinct sound of an electric race car — in this case, the prototype GT4e race car — echoed throughout the room.

It was a fitting soundtrack to the events of the day, in an equally fitting setting as PEC Franciacorta, which opened in 2021, is entirely powered by renewable energy, and which has reused old infrastructure whenever possible. Autonomous, electric lawnmowers whirred around the grassy landscaping throughout the day as a reminder, albeit a small one, of Porsche’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

What wasn’t small, or insignificant, was the information, goals, and plans Porsche executives, designers, and engineers shared with a select group of global automotive journalists during the workshops.

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

Porsche’s PPE architecture will underpin the 2024 Macan EV and future BEVs Photo by Porsche

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

The Porsche Macan EV mule Photo by Andrew McCredie

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

The Porsche Macan EV mule Photo by Andrew McCredie

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

The Porsche Macan EV mule Photo by Andrew McCredie

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

The Porsche Macan EV mule Photo by Andrew McCredie

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

The Porsche Macan EV mule Photo by Andrew McCredie

A foundational platform

Despite having an award-winning all-electric model in its stable since 2019 in the form of the Taycan, Porsche has trailed other automakers in producing a dedicated electric vehicle platform. That’s about to change. The company, in a working partnership with Audi, has developed the Premium Platform Electric, or PPE, to serve as the foundation for its coming generation of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). By 2030, the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer’s target is for more than 80 per cent of its new-car deliveries to be fully electric models.

The first of those will be the Porsche Macan EV, which was shown to the journalists in its in-development “mule” form as it continues to log the test kilometres in anticipation of its debut as a 2024 model.

As with other manufacturers’ EV platforms, the PPE is scalable so it can be used in several segments in the coming years in both rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations. It features 800-volt architecture, a powerful electric motor of the latest generation, and state-of-the-art battery- and charge-management features. It will have a system output up to 450 kW and torque of over 1,000 Nm.

The architecture utilizes permanently excited synchronous electric motors (PSM) with hairpin winding, in which the rotor of the AC motor is fitted with permanent magnets that generate a permanent magnetic field in the motor.

The Macan EV will have a lithium-ion battery in the underbody with a total capacity of around 100 kWh, and according to Porsche, will charge from five to 80 per cent in less than 25 minutes. Use a charger with 400-volt technology, and the all-electric Macan will employ so-called “bank charging” for the first time, whereby corresponding high-voltage switches (gates) are automatically switched in the battery before the actual charging process begins. This effectively splits the 800-volt battery into two batteries with a nominal voltage of 400 volts each that can be charged in parallel on one 400-volt charging station without an additional HV booster.

As to the PPE chassis, a new and unique bit of engineering is what Porsche calls a “performance rear axle,” where the electric motor is positioned for a slightly rear-focused weight balance, with the ratio at 48 to 52 per cent. In combination with the dynamic torque distribution of the all-wheel-drive and the rear-axle steering, the electric motors on the rear axle ensure agility when accelerating out of a bend.

The new architecture also enables the first rear-axle steering in a Macan, and presumably soon-to-come Porsche EVs. At speeds of up to 80 km/h, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the front wheels, with a steering angle at the rear axle of up to five degrees. This virtual shortening of the wheelbase results in a more dynamic steering response when cornering. At speeds above 80 km/h, the rear wheels steer in the same direction as the front axle. As a result, the wheelbase is virtually lengthened, further increasing the driving stability, for example when changing lanes on the motorway.

This is the kind of tech that underscores how even if racing transitions from gas to electricity, innovations on the race track will continue to make road cars better

And the power steering system gets a big update, too, with some interesting in-house tech that identifies and amplifies steering information such as the surface characteristics of the road and the grip capability of the tires. And disruptive vibrations and bumps are eliminated and not transferred to the steering wheel.

Rounding out the impressive chassis improvements in the PPE, and which will be part of the Macan EV’s DNA, is Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), working with an air suspension in which the system reacts to the condition of the road but also to the speed, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, accelerator pedal modulation, steering behaviour, and the position level of the car.

What became very apparent to me about halfway through the PPE presentation is that Porsche is not entering the EV realm in any way but full-throttle, and the Macan EV will be a real showcase of all these all-electric engineering advancements. Even the wheel and tires have been considered, as the wheel widths on the front and rear axles will differ to accommodate that rear-focused weight distribution for more grip and driving dynamics. The wheel sizes of up to 22 inches will provide further performance potential.

Porsche may be late to the EV architecture party with its PPE, but as has been the history of this company, when it comes to engineering ingenuity, it brings some new ideas and new concepts to the expanding electric-vehicle realm.

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

The all-wheel-drive Porsche GT4 e-Performance Photo by Porsche

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

The all-wheel-drive Porsche GT4 e-Performance Photo by Porsche

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

The all-wheel-drive Porsche GT4 e-Performance Photo by Porsche

Racing into the future

It wasn’t all work and no play for the journalists during the day’s events, as part of the program included jumping in the passenger seat of that prototype race car we’d heard tearing up the 2.5-kilometre Franciacorta track.

The all-wheel-drive Porsche GT4 e-Performance has been designed with one purpose — to pave the way for an all-electric replacement for the gasoline-powered Porsche race cars that have for decades played the starring roles in Carrera Cup series across the world. It’s living up to that goal, as its lap times can already match those of the current 911 GT3 Cup car over the distance of a 30-minutre Carrera Cup race.

Of course, that shouldn’t be too surprising, considering it can deliver up to 800 kW (1,073 horsepower) in qualifying mode, and in simulated racing mode 450 kW (612 hp) is continuously available for 30 minutes — the duration of a Carrera Cup race.

One of the main reasons the all-electric race car can perform at such a high rate for so long is an in-house-developed oil-cooling system that keeps the battery pack and other key systems in the best temperature parameters. This is the kind of technology that could very well end up in production all-electric vehicles, and underscores how even if racing transitions from gasoline to electricity, innovations on the race track will continue to make our road cars better.

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

Porsche’s Gen3 Formula E car Photo by Porsche

“The GT4 e-Performance is setting the course for Porsche customer sport with electrically powered racing cars. In the first step we are presenting this concept to our partners around the world,” says Oliver Schwab, Project Manager Sales for the GT4 e-Performance. “Working together with drivers, teams, event organisers, authorities, and other interested parties, we will be gathering ideas for possible future racing formats from Porsche.”

As the GT4 e-Performance looks to the future of racing, Porsche is firmly entrenched in electric racing in the present, particularly with the debut of its third-generation Formula E open-wheel racer.

And while cosmetically changed, the real story is the introduction of new technical standards, such as a power increase of 100 kW (134 hp) to a maximum of 350 kW (469 hp) in qualifying mode. And the energy recovery can enable up to 600 kW (805 hp), which is 2.4 times higher than the Gen2 race cars.

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

A row of Porsche Taycans at PEC Franciacorta in Italy Photo by Andrew McCredie

A clean sheet for the car factory

As much as electric vehicles will help lessen the world’s carbon footprint, for an automaker there are numerous other ways to cut CO2 output.

For Porsche, a major focal point is called a ‘Vision of the Zero Impact Factory,’ part of an ambitious goal to achieve a CO2-neutral balance sheet across the entire value chain by 2030. That will see the emissions of the company and its products being reduced along the entire life cycle.

Porsche aims to reduce the environmental impact points of its factories in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen and Leipzig by 95 per cent by 2030, compared to 2018 numbers. To do that, the company has taken a fully focused approach to sourcing clean energy for its production facility requirements, cutting down on packaging used by its own divisions along with its suppliers, and sourcing materials using strict environmental controls and oversight.

porsche's green push starts with a macan ev on new platform

Reflecting Porsche’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, PEC Franciacorta in Italy is entirely powered by renewable energy, and the infrastructure has been reused whenever possible Photo by Porsche

And, according to figures supplied by Porsche, that attention to detail is working. Since 2014, the company has reduced balance sheet CO2 emissions in its own production by 90 per cent for each car. Two examples of how that has been possible is that 100 per cent of the electricity used by the company comes from renewable energy, and the rail transport network for new cars between Zuffenhausen and Bremerhaven is for the most part powered by regenerative green electricity.

There is no shortage of cynics when it comes to the personal transportation transition from fossil fuels to electricity, but likewise there is no questioning the automotive industry’s commitment to make it a reality, and not from just eliminating what comes out of their vehicles’ tailpipes.

Porsche is certainly doing its part, and doing it in a way that does not compromise the integrity, the engineering, and the pure driving pleasure of its vehicles.

Keyword: Porsche's green push starts with a Macan EV on new platform

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