Porsche: Developing electric technology an “enormous burden”

Porsche’s chief financial officer, Lutz Meschke, says the manufacturer may need to accept a “temporary drop in profitability” as it transitions to focus on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Meschke described the costs of developing electric technology as an “enormous burden”.

“Today Porsche packs 8,000 to 10,000 euros in added content into an electrified vehicle, but those costs cannot be passed on via the price. The customer won’t accept it, just the opposite, in some parts of the world there’s a certain hesitation (to acceptance),” he said.

“But new technologies like this are an investment in the future.”

“Our five-year investment plan foresees investments of more than 3 billion euros ($4.5bn) alone for EVs and plug-ins. That’s an enormous burden for a company of our size.”

Along with its current range of plug-in hybrids, Porsche is preparing the Mission E for a 2019 or 2020 debut. Based on the Mission E concept from Frankfurt 2015, the car is expected to offer more than 500km of range on a full charge, and will be capable of ultra-fast charging using the Porsche Turbo Charging system debuted at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Stuttgart.

Although production performance figures haven’t been announced, the concept was fitted with a 440kW four-wheel drive powertrain.

The company is hoping to shift more than 20,000 examples every year, while the car’s platform could spawn a range of Mission E vehicles below it, including an SUV.

“The conceptual design of the Mission E once again gives us technically the potential to do more with this platform, and also we think about if the battery electric business will be fast growing and we think that the whole business will change, most probably pretty fast at some trigger point,” Porsche member of the executive board for research and development, Michael Steiner, told CarAdvice at the Paris Motor Show last year.

“In general we think what could be a second or third step, and also in terms of the platform of Mission E there is no reason why this has to be only a one body-style platform,” Steiner said.

“But if you look back, when we have done a new segment, we always have started with one variant and then it depends a little bit how this develops, how the sales are moving on, and how the segment is developing as a whole; whether we add variants or not.”

Don’t expect to see electric power pushing internal combustion to the fringe any time soon, though. Meschke told Automotive News Europe that diesel will be sticking around for a while yet, while PHEV, EV and internal-combustion cars will be sold side-by-side for the next decade.

“Half of the four-door models we sell in Europe run on diesel, and our new-generation Cayenne is engineered for diesel,” he said.

“We do not intend to make any rash decisions. Porsche is carefully considering the varying levels of demand in individual markets. For this reason, we do not envisage immediately stopping production of diesel vehicles.”

“We are keeping all our options open and will tackle specific product decisions as late as possible,” he added. “Much depends on the extent to which electro-mobility gains momentum and under what circumstances. Over the course of the next 10 years

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