In the electric car game, and possibly even in the luxury sedan game, the Tesla Model S is like the best gunslinger in the Old West right now. And that means tons of competitors are lining up to try and take it down, like Chevrolet and BMW. But if this rumor is true, the most plausible Tesla fighter could very well come from Porsche.
If you believe this report from CAR Magazine's Georg Kacher, then Porsche will be next to jump into the all-electric game with a battery-powered sedan smaller than the Panamera designed to compete with the Model S. It's being developed under the name "717."
The goal is a sedan that comes in 400, 500 and 600 horsepower variants, all with an electric range of more than 300 miles. While it will use the new Volkswagen Group MSB modular platform being developed for the next Panamera and Bentley Continental, it should be more compact than those cars.
Porsche already makes several plug-in hybrid cars, including versions of the Cayenne, the Panamera and the 918 hypercar. But this would be their first foray into the all-electric realm.
Kacher's report says that the 717 won't use the battery pack as part of the structural floorpan the way a Model S does:
Instead of a single, square-mattress-shaped energy cell which is relatively easy to cool and to connect, the battery arrangement proposed for the 717 looks more like a mountain range with the centre tunnel acting as peak ridge, with a pair of tall bulkhead walls and smaller agglomerations in the sills, the footwell and the overhangs.
In total, a reported 108 battery pouches need to be accommodated by the body-in-white. All 717 models will feature 4wd, four-wheel torque vectoring and four-wheel steering. As a rule, there is one electric motor per axle which will either be steel-sprung or feature an electrically-controlled air suspension system.
It's fascinating, high-level stuff. But is it anything more than a rumor? I think there might be something to this. Kacher is a more plugged-in (pardon the pun) and reputable reporter than most, and other publications like Auto Motor und Sport have also said such a car is under development.
If so, it mans the long awaited baby Panamera sedan — sometimes unfortunately called the "Pajun" for Panamera Junior, the way everyone thought the Macan would be called the "Cajun" — will be electric-only.
Two of the big reasons buyers are attracted to the Model S are its technology and its performance, and if Porsche is cooking up something similar, I doubt it will disappoint in either department. Kacher says such a car could go on sale in 2019. I guess we'll see eventually.