Leaders / Automotive

General Manager Henrik Dreier on whether the Porsche Taycan will live up to the legacy of the famed 911

“While the Taycan still retains the unmistakable Porsche design DNA, we have made significant future-ready changes that signal the beginning of a new era,” said General Manager Henrik Dreier as he spoke with LUXUO

Oct 07, 2020 | By Jonathan Ho

The Porsche Taycan, the brand’s first and only all-electric sports car was officially previewed by Singapore media in September last year. Just last week, the marque’s virtual launch for the Singapore market took place on the same day Road and Track reported on German carmaker’s latest quarterly report: that for the first time the fully electric Porsche Taycan outsold their gas-powered sports cars—the 911 and 718.

The Porsche Macan and Cayenne are currently among the more popular models in Singapore and while LUXUO is not saying that sales conditions will mirror US demand; that the Taycan became the overall third-best-selling Porsche states-side, behind the company’s Macan and Cayenne SUVs is evidence that consumers are responding to the electrification of one of the world’s most notable sports-car enthusiast brands. LUXUO caught up with Mr. Henrik Dreier, General Manager for Porsche (Singapore) Asia Pacific to talk about the winner of this year’s World Car of the Year Award 2020 and what it would mean for the brand’s legacy and heritage.

While the Taycan still retains the unmistakable Porsche design DNA, we have made significant future-ready changes that signal the beginning of a new era.

General Manager Henrik Dreier on whether the Porsche Taycan will live up to the legacy of the famed 911

 

The popularity of Formula E vs Formula 1 has been a hot button topic for good reason. Is an electric Porsche still a Porsche?

Yes, an electric Porsche is built using true Porsche technology – from the e-motors, transmission, battery, suspension, brakes and tires.

To ensure that the Taycan remains true to its roots and the quintessential values of Porsche, we took the Taycan prototype on a 24-hour endurance run at the Nardò high- speed track in Italy, right before the world premiere in September last year. The Taycan mastered this ambitious endurance run without any problems, underlining the advantages of the unique 800-volt technology. This was the same technology used in the Porsche 99X Electric in Formula E and helped the 919 Hybrid win the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in a row. Due to its success, it is now making the leap into series production for Taycan.

While the Taycan is our first all-electric car, we have been designing Porsche vehicles with electric drive – even on the racetracks. Our hybrid race car models such as the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, 918 Spyder and 919 Hybrid illustrate that a Porsche with an electrified powertrain can be a high-performance sports car.

Speaking of Formula E earlier, Porsche made its debut in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with the Porsche 99X Electric. While Formula E provided all teams with the vehicle chassis and the standard battery, Porsche engineers had to build a highly efficient powertrain offering maximum efficiency. Some of the components they developed included the electric motor, converter, brake-by-wire system, transmission, load-bearing structure and the associated chassis parts on the rear axle, as well as the cooling system and control unit.

The Taycan was built with what we call a “purpose design approach”. It was designed around the electric powertrain, which consists of two compact electric motors, one on the front axle and one in the rear, and a high voltage battery in the underbody of the car.

What goes into designing an electric Porsche that a true loyalist will enjoy?

When designing a Porsche, we consider two things: brand identity, so you recognise it as a Porsche; and product identity, so you recognise which Porsche it is. In the initial stages of development of, we started out with a blank canvas with the top priority for the Taycan to be a true Porsche, and not just another good EV. Our goal was to retain the unmistakable Porsche DNA.

The Taycan was built with what we call a “purpose design approach”. It was designed around the electric powertrain, which consists of two compact electric motors, one on the front axle and one in the rear, and a high voltage battery in the underbody of the car.

This resulted in a sports car with a very low centre of gravity, even lower than that of the 911. The weight distribution is 51% on the rear, and 49% on the front, which is typical for our sports cars, and allows us to achieve outstanding lateral driving dynamic that a true loyalist will certainly enjoy.

In terms of its exterior design, the Taycan silhouette is defined by the roofline sloping downward to the rear, which makes the vehicle appear sporty even when it is at a standstill. Drivers can also enjoy innovative elements such as the seamless light strip made of glass and the Porsche 3D lettering in glass-effect in the rear light bar.
Lastly, the sleek interior design of the Taycan is also driver-focused, as evident from its clean, minimalistic and ultra-modern design instrument panel with the rounded look that is typical of Porsche.

The flagship Taycan Turbo S can generate up to 560 kW (761 PS) of overboost power in combination with Launch Control and accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds, the same acceleration figures as a 911 GT2 RS.

Porsche is typically the first which comes to mind when you mention “performance sports car”, but other than unforgettable torque, an EV’s range doesn’t particularly spell “performance”, what do you say to that?

The Taycan is the first production vehicle with a system voltage of 800 V instead of the usual 400 V for electric cars. This architecture enables consistent high performance and decreases the wiring cable’s weight for optimal driving dynamics.

To give you an example of its impressive performance, the flagship Taycan Turbo S can generate up to 560 kW (761 PS) of overboost power in combination with Launch Control and accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds, the same acceleration figures as a 911 GT2 RS.

The Taycan has a two-speed gearbox technology, an innovation developed by Porsche, which improves an EV’s range. Additionally, with a Cd value from 0.22, the aerodynamically optimised basic shape makes a significant contribution to low energy consumption and thus a longer range.

At Porsche, we also recognise the importance of endurance and quality in sports car performance. As mentioned earlier, the Taycan did a 24-hour endurance run at the Nardò high-speed track in Italy that covered a total distance of 3,425 kilometres. Moreover, Johnny Smith, host of “Fully Charged”, tested the acceleration of the Porsche Taycan, going from 0-200 km/h and back for 26 consecutive times. The average acceleration times documented on the “Fully Charged” YouTube channel was just under ten seconds and the difference between the fastest and the slowest attempts was just 0.8 seconds.

This shows that the performance typical for Porsche is reproduced in the Porsche Taycan, where its electric powertrain is designed to enable it to reach full power output even when accelerating multiple times in direct succession.

The Taycan is unlike any other before it, does it bring with it a new era of design for Porsche?

While the Taycan still retains the unmistakable Porsche design DNA, we have made significant future-ready changes that signal the beginning of a new era.

For example, all user interfaces have been completely re-designed for the Taycan to showcase new standards of digitalisation. With an innovative instrument that consists of a curved 16.8-inch screen, the digital and screen-based control concept features four different display modes.

Most notably, the rev counter has now been replaced by a power meter and the air vents have been completely modernised to be controlled digitally through the Advanced Climate Control system. The Advanced Climate Control system is a world’s first, with two fully automatic modes – “focused” for directional cooling and ‘diffused” for draft-free air conditioning.
All vehicle configurations and applications can easily be set up on the central screen via direct access, which includes navigation, telephone and media. The control is intelligent and intuitive – via touch operation or a voice control function that responds to the command “Hey Porsche”.

Additionally, for the first time, we are offering a leather-free interior for customers who are looking for an environmentally friendly choice. One of the options is Club Leather “OLEA”, which is tanned using olive leaf extracts manufactured from renewable raw materials.

Obviously, an important question is – given Porsche’s heritage, will 911 owners take to the Taycan? Was its part of design considerations? / Everyone is familiar with the silhouette of the Porsche, and yet the Taycan has to be simultaneously exciting and new, yet enough to draw upon its pedigree, how was this accomplished?

Yes. In both the exterior and interior design, numerous Porsche design elements have been considered in the production of the Taycan.

The first thing that Taycan will remind you of the 911 is the sporty proportions, the signature Porsche sloping flyline, and the muscular wings, combined with short overhangs at the front and the rear. The 4-point daytime running lights in the LED Matrix Headlight unit is also an attribute that makes every Porsche recognisable from afar – even at night.

Similarly, the interior design of a Taycan was also heavily inspired by the original 911’s cleanly styled dashboard from 1963. One of the goals was to bring it to the present day, in our first fully electric sports car, the Taycan.

Was it clear from the beginning which direction development was going to take? Or did you consider the landscape and see what the market feedback was on performance EVs?

There were many discussions about the model of the first all-electric Porsche vehicle. We considered launching into e-mobility with an SUV, but ultimately the decision was made to take this important step for Porsche with a sports car in order to make a clear statement. After reviewing the landscape, we decided to avoid any in-house competition for our existing models and chose a four-door saloon segment below the Panamera (in the C- Segment), which appeals to consumers worldwide and it is a segment that has not yet been occupied by Porsche. All in all, we’ve considered different aspects – market, shape, performance and speed, and hence resulted in the creation as you see it today.

The Panamera and the Macan have been highly successful models, did these models influence product considerations? Would there be an EV Macan on the cards?

We’ve considered many aspects, be it the models and type of cars. Electromobility plays an important role in shaping the future of sportscars.

In fact, our Panamera S Hybrid was the first parallel full hybrid in the luxury class which has enjoyed tremendous success and customer demand since its launch in 2011. Two years later, the Panamera S E-Hybrid once again led the way in the segment as the world’s first plug-in hybrid. In 2018, 67 percent of all Panamera model delivered in Europe has a hybrid drive. These past models have been the sportiest vehicles in their respective segments, not despite but because of their hybrid drive.

Therefore, the experience we’ve gathered from our past Panamera hybrid models have allowed us to develop key technological innovations with a deeper understanding of the entire electromobility landscape.

We can anticipate more than 50% of our vehicles sold will be electrically driven models, or partially electrically driven plug-in hybrid models. In addition to the Taycan, the next generation Macan will also be fully-electric.

Other marques have gotten into debates as they redesigned logos and crests into “modern” representations, were there discussions on keeping the iconic shield?

The Porsche crest has been our seal of quality since 1952, and one of the most famous trademarks in the world. For now, there are no discussions in terms of redesigning logos and the crest. Our shield signifies our Porsche heritage and knowledge of building sports cars for over 70 years. It represents the anchor and visual heart of our brand and embodies the ‘Soul’ of the car.

It is equally important to make sure the Taycan carries the same essential message, as evident in its motto, ‘Soul, Electrified’. Although the drivetrain of a Taycan is different, the soul and legacy of a Porsche are still carried in our first-fully electric car, as with every other Porsche on the road.

While the crest has undergone careful design changes over the years, the core elements of our brand have always been retained since: a prancing horse taken from the seal of the city of Stuttgart, which symbolises the roots of the company and at the same time, illustrates the quality and dynamics of its products. The name of Stuttgart is embossed above it, within the contours of a golden shield, while the surrounding red and black state colours and the stylised antlers are taken from the traditional crest of Württemberg- Hohenzollern. Finally, the Porsche logo forms a protective arch over the entire design.

There were many who were passionate advocates for the mission E and feel the Taycan doesn’t live up, what would you say to these hardcore fans?

The idea of Mission E was born in order to take our next step towards the future in ensuring that our all-electric drive systems can truly meet the Porsche standards of intelligent performance. After several tests, the Taycan was created and the essence of Mission E is retained with even better performance and speed.

Compared to Mission E, the Taycan has lost none of the aesthetic appeal and design qualities. We’ve also transferred the Mission E genes to the production of the Taycan, in both the interior and exterior features.

For example, the optimisation in terms of aerodynamic of the Taycan matches the design language of the Mission E. The Cd value of Mission E was 0.33, while Taycan’s Cd value currently stands at 0.22.


 
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