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Porsche's Next-Gen EVs Will Be Game-Changers
The German giant is set to make a massive leap forward.
Modern EVs are spectacular. They make combustion cars look clumsy, unreliable, slow and unsophisticated. The main barriers to EV ownership, namely range anxiety and charge times, have mostly gone out the window. Current mid-range EVs well over 300 miles of range, and some can charge in less than 20 minutes. For the vast majority of people, an EV is now the obvious choice. But there are still many who need far more from their car, whether it is a cheaper yet just as capable EV, regular long trips, towing, no access to a home charger, or even hauling heavy goods. Whoever can crack these problems first will take the lead in the EV race, and Porsche might be the first to do it.
Porsche already makes one of the best EVs on the market. Their Taycan can go toe-to-toe with the fastest Tesla, and unlike the Tesla, which can only do a few full-bore accelerations before needing to cool down, the Porsche can achieve max acceleration all day long. The Taycan is also among the best-handling EVs out there, as it has been designed using much of Porsche’s vast motorsport experience. To top it off, The Taycan is one of the fastest-charging cars on the market, charging from 10% to 80% in only 17 minutes! There are only two problems with the Taycan: its massive price tag and its abysmally short range of only 250 odd miles.
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This is all down to the inverters (also known as motor controllers) Porsche uses. You see, the ones in the Taycan are based on those found in their hybrid race cars and hypercars. They are designed to give maximum power, no matter the conditions, whilst weighing as little as possible. Sadly, this compromises its efficiency, leading to the very short range of the Taycan, despite its efficient motors and aerodynamics. In comparison, Tesla’s inverters are the opposite, optimised for efficiency, compromising their power and temperature resistance. Hence why the Model S Plaid, which has pretty much the same size battery as the Taycan, can do 100 more miles per charge.
But Porsche recently announced something astonishing that could put them lightyears ahead of Tesla. They aim to deliver EVs with 800-mile ranges and 15-minute charge times soon. What’s more, the technology to achieve this already exists. Not only that, but the technology behind this massive leap forward is set to become cheaper and more environmentally friendly than current batteries. So, in the not-too-distant future, we could see VW group (who owns Porsche) EVs with similar specs.
Let me explain.
Porsche’s engineers have stated that they have already built a prototype vehicle that achieves this range and charge time. How? Well, they have used batteries from Quantumsape, a solid-state battery startup that Porsche (and, in turn, VW) have heavily invested in and are now a majority shareholder.
I’ve covered solid-state batteries before, but here is a quick recap. Unlike the cells we use today, which have a gel-like electrolyte connecting the two sides of the battery, a solid-state battery uses solid electrolytes, generally in the form of ceramics. This increases the ion density and conductivity of the battery, making them both more energy-dense and faster charging than the cells we use today. Moreover, their assembly takes far less energy than the cells we use today, which requires drying time to adhere the electrolyte to the anode and cathodes. This all means that solid-state batteries can, in theory, be far cheaper and more eco-friendly than the cells we use today, as they require less time, material and energy to produce.
But there is a problem. These ceramic electrolytes are incredibly challenging to manufacture without a sky-high scrape rate. What’s more, they tend to have very short life cycles. As such, solid-state batteries have been too costly and impractical for any widespread application.
Now, Quantumscape’s batteries are lithium-metal solid-state. This means the anode (negative side) is primarily made of raw lithium metal rather than a material that can absorb lithium. This helps to make manufacturing less energy intensive and more consistent, making them one of the easier types of solid-state batteries to mass produce. It also makes them incredibly energy-dense and insanely quick to recharge. The only problem is that they tend to have very short lifespans, as they degrade rapidly.
But Quantumscape seems to have solved this. Their batteries only lose 10% capacity after 1,000 charge cycles. This means that the battery pack will easily last well over 250,000 miles. This battery also charges rapidly from 10% to 80% in 15 minutes. But its main party trick is its energy density. With a volumetric density of 1,000 Wh/L and a gravimetric density of 350 Wh/kg, it is tiny and featherweight compared to current cells. For some perspective, a Model 3 LR has a roughly 75 kWh battery pack that weighs just shy of 500kg. If we replaced that with a Quantumscape battery of the same capacity, it would only weigh 150 kg and would be so small it could fit in the Model 3’s front trunk! Oh, and this hypothetical model 3 can now charge in half the time.
Now, Quantumscape hasn’t put this battery into full mass production yet, so the current cost per cell is still relatively high. However, they are aiming for a price of only $70 per kWh by 2028. For some comparison, the average battery is around $130 per kWh, and Tesla’s “revolutionary” 4680 cells are around $104 per kWh. So that is astonishingly cheap! Particularly as its specs dwarf the 4680.
This is why Porsche can do an 800-mile EV. Their upcoming batteries cost nearly half that current cells whilst being able to charge twice as fast, weigh half as much, and take up half the space. Its dirt-cheap price per kWh also means that this battery could have a groundbreaking impact on the affordable end of the EV spectrum.
But, when can we expect this mega EV from Porsche to come out? And when can we expect affordable EVs with the battery to hit the market?
Well, unlike Tesla, Porsche only sets dates when they are 100% sure they can meet them. So, we don’t have any timeline for this as of yet, but we can make an educated guess.
Quantumscape intends to set up a pilot facility in 2024 that will be able to produce 1 GWh worth of batteries per year and scale production from there. Now, Porsche has also teased their Mission X concept, a full EV successor to their 918 hypercar that will almost certainly use Quantumscape’s cells. We don’t yet know when this will be leached, but rumours are it will hit the roads in 2025 or 2026. As Quantumscale scales and hopefully reaches its price target of $70 per kWh by 2028, I think that is when we can expect this 800-mile Porsche EV. This is because the battery production will be large enough for a small series production car like the Taycan, but not a mass-market vehicle.
By the early 2030s, Quantumscape will hopefully have had enough time to scale production even more. This is when we can expect cheaper EVs like Škodas, Audis and VWs to have this incredible battery. This could make VW group cars by far the cheapest, fastest charging and longest range out there!
Now, this isn’t to say that Porsche and Quantumscape have a home run on their hands. There are plenty of hurdles in their way. That’s why Porsche isn’t giving exact dates yet, because they want to not rush this and leave room for necessary delays to ensure they are doing this right. An approach that Tesla could do with learning from. But, with a bit of luck, Porsche and VW might be able to crack the ultimate EV technology and take the lead in the EV race.
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