The entire project revolves around making the all-electric Porsche owner feel as good as possible. Even though its parent company, Volkswagen, owns a part of the high-power Ionity charging network, the Stuttgart-based brand is bent on building it. As it should be!
Volkswagen AG owns 75% of Porsche AG, the mighty company that makes sports cars, supercars, SUVs, and, from time to time, hypercars. However, Porsche SE – a holding company – owns 31.4% of Volkswagen AG and has a voting majority in the automaker's corporate structure. The Porsche and Piech families control Porsche SE. It's complicated, but it works.
Thus, it's not surprising that Porsche's steadily on track to expand its operations. This kind of ownership structure leaves little room for rookie mistakes, especially now that the Stuttgart-based brand is on a roll. The popular automaker is slowly but surely completely electrifying its models. But the push in this direction is not going to be an easy one for Porsche. Its customers still long for the days when air-cooled engines ruled the 911 moniker.
One example that shows Porsche is taking the transition to zero-tailpipe emission powertrains seriously is the Taycan's braking system. Instead of joining everyone on the one-pedal drive bandwagon, it found a clever way to keep the driver connected to the EV. To stop the Taycan, you must press the brake pedal. It's such a simple yet significant part of driving.
At first, the car uses the kinetic energy generated by deceleration to charge the battery. Basically, the motor spins backward and turns into a generator. At this point, there's no physical connection between the brake pad and the disc. Friction isn't happening.
Only when the driver needs extra braking force does the braking system jump in to help the Taycan lower its speed or stop altogether. It's a great way of keeping the human involved in the driving act while also making sure that the environmental benefit of an EV isn't compromised. Brake dust is a known pollutant that affects people living in crowded areas. Not braking as often as needed lowers the carbon footprint of the car and the driver, respectively.
Other EVs allow drivers to use only the acceleration pedal to go faster or slow down because regen braking can be pretty powerful when set to the maximum possible setting.
We could also spend some more time discussing the two-speed transmission and why it's a great implementation to make Porsche's first production EV nimbler and more efficient. But we would continue to stray away from the focus of this story for far too long.
Being thrifty as a carmaker in 2023
Surviving in the automotive industry isn't very hard, but thriving in this competitive environment is a whole other story. Porsche, however, did both. Now, the German marque is preparing to continue making gearheads happy in the all-electric era.
But why is it building a brand-new (and costly!) charging network in Europe when it only sells one EV? Well, it's all about vision and preparedness.
At the beginning of this article, we told you about the entanglement between Volkswagen and Porsche. The relationship governing all these entities matters because it helps us better understand how they work and how much weight they have on the global car scene.
As the custodian of seven auto brands and one motorcycle manufacturer, VW understood that charging would eventually become an international necessity. It figured out early that oil giants weren't quite keen on converting their fuel stations, so it joined forces with BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, and Kia to create Ionity – Europe's most well-known high-power EV charging network.
Over the pond, they use the CCS Combo 2 connector, which is also found on Teslas. As such, there's no difference between Supercharger stalls and Ionity DC fast chargers. Unsurprisingly, however, Tesla has more charging points than Ionity – around 8,000 more. And that's a problem.
Even though Ionity plans to expand, Tesla is silently taking over as the leading fast-charging provider in Europe. Whilst using a Supercharger may be seamless and convenient, Porsche (and VW, for that matter) wouldn't want its customers to share the same plug with everyone else. After all, vehicles like the Model 3 are perceived as simple commuting appliances, while the Taycan is meant to heighten your driving experience without causing any harm to the local environment.
That's also debatable, considering the weight of EVs and the strain they put on tires, but we won't digress.
As such, Porsche is going forward with its own high-power charging network. The first one is already up and running. It's situated just outside Bingen am Rhein, west of Frankfurt. The automaker calls it a "Charging Lounge." It installed six 300-kW DC fast chargers and four 22-kW AC charging points.
The network will be expanded in Germany at first, with Austria and Switzerland following shortly after.
But what Porsche subtly did here is that it announced its upcoming all-electric cars may boast battery packs with a voltage of over 800V. The Alpitronic DC fast chargers are currently set up to provide electrons at a rate of 300 kW, but from 2024 onwards, the stalls should dispense energy at a speed of 400 kW per hour.
If the next Taycan is as good or better than the Lucid Air Grand Touring, owners should expect a top-up of their energy storage units in as little as half an hour or less.
Of course, all the electricity is from "certified renewable sources."
But since this network comprises charging lounges and not stations, drivers can take advantage of some amenities. They can sit in an air-conditioned (and heated during the winter) room while waiting for the car to charge. The building is run digitally and optimizes power consumption while also using energy from the solar panels installed on the roof.
In a Porsche Charging Lounge, customers will find modern bathrooms, drinks and snacks machines, magazines, free Wi-Fi, and a small gym with a smart mirror. You'll love these places if you're into working out and staying fresh while road-tripping.
As exclusive as possible
EV and PHEV owners don't have to search for the Lounges because they'll appear in their vehicles' navigation systems, but they need a Porsche ID. These locations aren't available to other makes and models for the time being, so the system needs to identify that your car is a Porsche and is registered in your name. A camera will scan your number plate, match it with an existing Porsche ID, and allow you access after it's all said and done.
Don't worry if you don't have or don't want a Porsche ID. Another way to get inside a Lounge is through a manufacturer-emitted charging card or a unique QR code from the MyPorsche app.
The billing is also straightforward. You can pay with nearly anything, and fast-charging costs just €0.33 ($0.36) per kWh.
Porsche has also worked out some deals with most of its European dealers to provide customers with Level 1 and Level 2 charging solutions. Moreover, various hotels and restaurants across the Old Continent have Destination Chargers, which dispense electricity at a maximum rate of 22 kW.
In the US, the automaker relies on the VW-owned Electrify America. Chinese buyers have their own exclusive network. But it's rather small, with just 300 charging points (not sites).
Porsche plans 80% of its delivered vehicles to be all-electric starting in 2030. There's a chance the 911 might escape having to replace its Boxer engine with electric motors, but it's too soon to tell. What's certain right now is that electrification through hybridization will help the iconic two-door vehicle to put out more impressive power figures.
At the end of the day, maybe we should just appreciate what we have. Tesla's Supercharger network, Electrify America, EVgo, ChargePoint, Francis Energy, and the upcoming Ionity-like venture for North America can satisfy America's demand for DC fast chargers as they expand and improve. Let's hope reliability becomes a top priority for all players in this sector.