Heavy batteries stall plan for electric Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster

Published: 04 March 2020

► Our rendering of new e-718
► Plan to electrify Cayman/Boxster stalls
► R&D chief admits batteries too heavy
 

Heavy batteries are hindering plans to electrify Porsche's smallest sports cars - and the project has not yet been given the green light, the R&D chief has admitted.

Talking to CAR magazine during the virtual Geneva motor show, Dr Michael Steiner said: 'We are running several electrified Boxsters to gain expertise and knowledge to see how an electric car performs as a two-door. But there is no final decision yet.'

He said that the electric Taycan felt true to the brand, but that transferring that 'Porscheness' to sports cars was a tougher ask. 'The acoustic sound doesn’t really play that huge a role with a GT like the Taycan and adding weight is ok,' he added. 'But the additional weight for a sports car, we are not satisfied with today. This is one of the reasons why our next electric car will be a small SUV not a two-door sports car.'

Next year's new Macan crossover will be a full EV in some territories, while other markets will stick with internal combustion engines. It's a complex engineering cocktail, showing just how tricky it is for manufacturers to satisfy demand in all markets. 

Porsche Taycan electric car review

But surely battery tech will improve - and Porsche will eventually launch electric sports cars?

Steiner said that the sports car EV project was still active, but that it was still some way off. 'In principle if there was a breakthrough in battery technology, something like solid-state batteries - this direction would trigger a two-door sports car fully electrified. But I do not see in the first half of this decade a good chance of a breakthrough in battery technology. We will see step-by-step incremental benefit with lithium-ion batteries.

Porsche R&D chief Michael Steiner with a petrol-powered 911

'We predict a 2-3% improvement year-by-year in lithium-ion battery improvement. I am still not happy with the weight, though. But that does not mean there won’t be a sports car.'

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The secret electric 718 replacement plans

Porsche isn't hanging around with its electrification strategy and has been quietly looking to electrify its entire range, in time. While the world's attention is firmly upon the Taycan, Stuttgart's first full production electric vehicle (EV), its engineers are busily working on more affordable battery-powered models, even if they haven't yet been given the green light.

The replacements for the entry-level 718 Boxster and Cayman twins could be all-electric if the engineers can get the weight of the e-powertrain down, underlining how serious Zuffenhausen is about jumping onboard the electric battlebus. Our intel suggests the following specs:

  • Powertrain  Twin electric motors, rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Output  System total 400bhp
  • Chassis  Aluminium monocoque
  • Due on sale  2023

The current, mostly four-cylinder 718 twins will have to soldier on until 2023 in their current, perhaps facelifted forms.

Designs on the new Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster successor

The company has already indicated that their successors will be electrified and CAR magazine's intel suggests that the e-sports cars will have to share componentry with the wider group, with an Audi TTE and the rebirth of the Lamborghini Uracco mooted.

Porsche and Rimac: how future sports cars will be developed

Porsche’s investment in Rimac is a big deal for its future electrified cars.

While the start-up has had little to do with the Taycan, the first project to come from Stuttgart’s Croatian venture will be the electric Macan then further development with the small sports car project.

The petrol flat-four boxer engined 718 Cayman and Boxster will give way to an all-electric version around 2023

The plan is still in its early stages, but engineers only have a few months left to present something to Porsche’s execs. Chief executive officer Oliver Blume has told CAR that the brand has 12 months to either ‘go right or go left’ with regards to the future of the sub-911 sports car.

Will the 911 also go electric?

Porsche execs understand that the time may come for a fully-electric 911, but they don’t want to go messing with a 70-year old icon just yet. Instead, the 992.2 mid-life facelift will include a hybrid option like the Panamera and Cayenne; the platform has been engineered to take an electrified powertrain ahead of time.

But the job of pioneering a fully electric Porsche sports car will fall to the 718 successor.

Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman of Porsche AG, said: ‘In the sports car segment we have to think about the pure electric car. With the 911 it will be a bit difficult, but for the 718 I think it could be a very good step for the future, on a completely new platform we can then discuss to share with other brands.’

More Porsche scoops by CAR magazine

By Georg Kacher and Tim Pollard

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

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