► Next-gen Macan to go electric
► Petrol variants will still be offered
► Engineering chief and CEO spill details
Porsche’s next-generation Macan will be the last one powered by an internal combustion engine. The final petrol-powered models will roll off the production line in 2024 – although the company has confirmed that an electric Macan will go on sale in 2023.
Porsche’s decision to sell an electric version of the new Macan alongside ICE-powered models shows that the brand isn’t ready to throw its full weight behind full electrification. The company recognises that electrification isn’t right for everyone just yet, so it’ll tailor the sales of its electric Macan to the markets most willing to accept it.
This is an expensive move for Porsche as a manufacturer – but it’ll benefit us as customers, as we’re given a broader choice of powertrains. Porsche confirmed the all-electric Macan in February 2019, and said it will be built at its Leipzig factory in eastern Germany.
Over the past few years, Porsche has been drip-feeding information about the electric Macan – and these tidbits have been bulked up by our spy photographers, who are now regularly snapping prototypes undergoing development testing.
The cars in our spy shots are still wearing camouflage, but you can see some similarities between the new SUV and the Taycan, as Porsche sets out the styling language for its EV range. The headlights are a similar shape to the Taycan’s, and the car’s clean surfacing show that the company’s engineers have adopted the same focus on aerodynamics.
Andreas Huber, Porsche’s manager for digital prototypes, tells us that his team has been beavering away on the Macan’s aerodynamics in the virtual world for around five years. He said that low drag for the electric model is ‘fundamental, with a view to ensuring low range.’
Why is Porsche bothering with an all-electric Macan?
It’s just good business. All the biggest sports car brands have jumped on the bandwagon – and it looks like the bandwagon is driving straight to the bank. Even Lotus, the firm famed for its focus on simple, lightweight engineering, has decided that electric SUVs make financial sense. Its Type 132 SUV will make its debut in 2022 – and Porsche wants a piece of the pie.
Naturally, Porsche didn’t outline its intentions as curtly as this. Instead, the firm’s engineering boss, Dr Michael Steiner, covered some details about the electric Macan’s underpinnings, saying: ‘We have started to develop the electrified Macan and it will be based on a new platform – it’s not a derivative of an existing one. It’s been jointly developed with Audi: PPE, standing for Premium Platform Electric.’
The new chassis continues Porsche and Audi’s collaboration on EVs, as the platform will also be used to prop up the new Audi Q6 e-tron, which is due for launch later this year. It differs greatly from the J1 platform found under the Taycan and the e-tron GT twins, too.
This platform talk is important, as it reveals a branch in Porsche’s architecture planning. Zuffenhausen intends to offer low-floor and high-riding EVs, which will power a future family of sportier models (Taycan GT, possible electric sports cars) and more practical Porsches (like the Macan and other SUVs).
‘PPE is totally different from the Taycan,’ Steiner added. ‘Taycan was designed for cars sitting low on the road. PPE will be used by Macan and other high-floor cars – there could be further derivatives in the SUV range. It is totally new. The Macan will go all the way up to Turbo and Turbo S levels of performance.’
Steiner also reaffirmed Porsche’s short-term commitment to combustion power, saying: ‘With the Macan for some years there will be an ICE [internal combustion engine] Macan, in parallel with a fully electric car. Depending on market demand, we will offer them in parallel.’
But will I be able to buy an electric Macan in the UK?
Porsche hasn’t told us yet. The company is still deciding which markets will take which powertrains – although Steiner told us that less developed EV markets, such as the USA, will stick with petrol-power for the time being.
Regions such as Europe and China, which have a comparatively high uptake of electric vehicles (and the infrastructure to support them), will probably make the switch to the EV model sooner. It’s probable that the UK will be bundled into this category, with sales potentially starting as soon as 2023.
This decision puts Porsche in a tricky position, though, as it’s forced to invest in both technologies – a point not lost on the brand’s CEO, Oliver Blume. We asked him when his company’s platform strategies would converge.
He told us: ‘Not for a few years. We are watching very closely around the world. Different regions of the world are developing at different speeds.
‘We are well prepared with the product strategy, petrol engines/hybrids and electric mobility. In 10 years, I don’t know [how that will have changed]. We make analysis every year, how the markets are developing, then we take our decisions for the product strategy year-by-year.’
By 2025, Porsche predicts that half of its sales will come from pure-electric vehicles, which means the brand’s high-revving four- and six-cylinder engines will soon be on the chopping block. So, petrolheads, place your orders now while you still can.
Read our full interview with Oliver Blume