With luxury auto makers—from Porsche to Aston Martin—poised to release electric sports cars that upend earnest eco-clichés, going green will soon entail going startlingly fast
“What is often forgotten is the current drive to EVs was initiated by Nissan, Mitsubishi [the i-MiEV] and Tesla,” said Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, who championed the Leaf program when he was a vice president of Nissan. “Without all three and VW’s Dieselgate, we would not be seeing this revolution.”
But having been more or less obliged to build such cars, auto makers still face the challenge of making them desirable and status-bearing. It’s comforting somehow that this part of the auto industry, at least, has not changed: You have to sell the sizzle with the steak.
.. With its 800-volt charging technology, the Mission E is targeting more than 300 miles of range and a 15-minute quick-charge good for 250 miles. Also: 600 hp, all-wheel drive, and 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, if that does anything for you.
.. If you are wondering how eco-weenie mobiles got so mega, the simple answer is bigger, badder batteries and the systems that manage, support and cool them. The average specific-energy and power density of lithium-ion batteries has been rising steadily for the past decade. As they do, they allow more energy to be put in the bottle (to go farther) and widen the bottle’s mouth so more energy comes out at once (to go faster).
.. By virtue of a comparatively lower center of gravity, EVs tend to corner flatter and harder without body roll. EVs also put torque to the ground more efficiently. Unlike conventional traction-control systems, an e-motor’s twist can be modulated hundreds of times a second, exploiting all available adhesion between tire and surface without spinning.
.. For driving enthusiasts there is also a little game-changer ahead called independent torque vectoring. By virtue of their compactness, EV motors can be arrayed at all four wheels, allowing each to work independently and cooperatively, speeding up or slowing down to help the car in extreme maneuvering. As the driver heads for a corner, the inside front wheel slows, or even drags, the outside tire pushes harder, the rear wheels do the same, and the directional power actually bends the car’s path through the turn.
.. “I would contest that with or without legislation, we would be investing in EVs,” said Mr. Palmer of Aston Martin. The design opportunity “has got both our engineers and designers excited.”
.. But is faster always better? “The power of an EV powertrain is not in question,” said Mr. Palmer. “The biggest step change is how it feels for the driver (and passengers) versus an internal combustion engine. Although we as a brand are loved for the sound of our engines, we don’t see any issue with the sound of silence.”
.. 2018 Audi e-tron Quattro, a mid-size SUV with a 95-kWh battery, nominal range of 310 miles, and 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Porsche has indicated it too will offer an EV crossover, Macan-sized, on the VW Group’s new dedicated architecture.