The rumors claiming that Porsche's next-generation 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman will be electric are getting louder. Both models will reportedly run on batteries, but they'll drive a lot like the current-generation models thanks in part to a clever packaging solution.
Reportedly previewed by the Mission R concept (pictured), the next 718s will be underpinned by a new platform engineered for low-slung sports cars. Porsche is part of the Volkswagen Group, which has several electric car architectures in its arsenal, but none are suitable for something like the Boxster, hence why creating a new one is necessary. Some of the hardware will be shared with other cars, however.
"When we electrify a model, we won't do a carry-over of the combustion engine [platform] because there are too many compromises. When we are looking to future sports cars, we would develop its own platform but connected with some modules coming from other cars. But the platform will be unique," affirmed company boss Oliver Blume in an interview with British magazine Autocar. It's worth pointing out that these rumors are just that: rumors. Porsche hasn't confirmed the 718 will go electric, but it knows how to make the switch if it takes that route.
Underpinning a hypothetical electric sports car — whether it's a Boxster, a Cayman, or something else — with a purpose-designed platform will give engineers the freedom to move the battery pack, which is the heaviest part of an electric car, between the driver and the rear axle. That's unusual because it's located below the passenger compartment in most electric cars on sale in 2021, but that's also where the flat-six (or flat-four) lies in a 718. In theory, moving the pack to the engine's location would preserve the model's sharp, balanced handling.
Equally important is the fact that positioning the battery behind the driver rather than under would help Porsche lower the seating position. "With today's battery cell technology, the batteries are the biggest and heaviest part of the car — and this could be true for the next decade or so — so we developed what we call the e-core battery design. Packaging-wise and center of gravity-wise, it's more or less a copy of a mid-engine design," explained Michael Steiner, the head of Porsche's research and development department, in a separate interview.
What both executives clearly ruled out is building an EV on a platform designed for one powered by a piston engine. "There is always some compromise in weight, package, and other dimensions" with multi-energy platforms, stressed Steiner. While that's an expensive route to take, Steiner added that Porsche could share its sports car platform with its sister companies, including Audi and Lamborghini.
One of the obstacles still standing in an electric 718's way is weight. Batteries are heavy, and weight is a sports car's enemy. Porsche's engineers have allegedly set the project's target weight at about 3,650 pounds, but that's still 600 pounds more than a Boxster.
If the rumors are accurate, the Mission R-inspired electric 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman could land in showrooms in time for the 2025 model year. That sounds far, but keep in mind we're already looking at 2023s. Production of the current cars could continue for a brief period.
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