Porsche may field a smaller version of its Panamera sedan called the Pajun with a version that's, get this, all-electric. And being a Porsche, it’s going to be lightning quick, but French publication L’Automobile says it will have something else — Tesla-type extra-long range of 250 to 300 miles. A lot of the technology will be borrowed from the 416-horsepower Panamera S E-Hybrid, which scoots to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.
Don’t get too excited, because the Pajun (the name a contraction of Panamera Junior) is a long way off. Porsche might show it as a concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, but Tesla doesn’t have to worry until 2018 or so. By that time Elon Musk and company will have the Model X established in the marketplace, and will be launching the $35,000-or-so Model 3.
Porsche won’t confirm that the Pajun is real. “We have not made any official announcements yet concerning potential new product at the Frankfurt Auto Show,” said J. David Burkhalter, a spokesman for Porsche Cars North America. But the car makes a lot of sense. People thought the company was crazy when it came out with the 877-horsepower 918 Spyder, a plug-in hybrid priced at a lofty $849,000 (some variations with the Weissach package were more than $1 million), but the 918 made were sold out instantly. “I sold four of them myself," said Bob Duggan of Porsche of Fairfield in Connecticut.
But the 918 has only 20 miles of all-electric range, so Porsche must have done some serious work on batteries (perhaps in partnership with Volkswagen and Audi) if it’s achieving 250 miles on a charge.
I think a Tesla-type all-electric supercar is within the capabilities of most major automakers, and it puzzles me why they instead field bread-and-butter battery sedans. The public has spoken on this particular sweepstakes, and clearly the impractical and expensive hard chargers are winning the race. Let’s look at sales.
In July, Tesla sold 1,600 Model S cars, making it the top seller in the field. Lagging far behind were the family wagons: Ford moved just 135 Focus Electrics in the period, and Volkswagen 313 e-Golfs. The tiny Chevrolet Spark EV is clearly hurting — 57 were sold in July, and GM cut the price by $1,650 in April. Supercar sales, such as the BMW i8, are a bit harder to judge since there are availability issues. The i8, for instance, is sold out through 2015. But still, 217 i8s looks pretty good, and the smaller but still potent i3 did 935. Porsche sold 40 918s, and 23 Panamera S E-Hybrids.
Supercars, including electric ones, may not sell in huge numbers, but they’re very profitable, and they offer two other advantages — reams of good publicity, and enhancement of a company’s performance image.
Independent companies haven’t been shy about competing with Tesla, and even raising the ante with more horsepower. The all-electric Rimac Concept One, from Croatia, boasts 373 miles of range and 1,088 horsepower at an eye-popping price of more than $1 million. The company seems to have serious engineering chops; I saw a Concept One in the pits at the Formula E race in Miami.
And then there’s the U.S.-based Renovo, which is building a 500-horsepower all-electric copy of the famous Shelby Daytona Coupe, also with blistering performance and in this case, a $500,000 price tag. And don’t forget the Toroidion 1MW, which is seriously cool-looking, claims 1,341 horsepower, and is priced over $1 million.
I talked to Mike Tinskey, director of global electrification at Ford, and while he repeated the oft-heard mantra about not talking about future product, he did say, “Having 100 percent of torque available at zero speeds, coupled with silence, is a thrilling experience.”
Here's video with speculative photos of what the Pajun might look like:
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