In the past week or so, spy shots of the upcoming electric Porsche 718 sports car have ignited the internet. It’s a product as divisive as it is unique, leading some enthusiasts to mourn the impending loss of the glorious flat-six 718s. Mind you, it’s not like the electric 718 has come out of nowhere. The truth is, an electric Boxster has precedent. Let’s throw things back to 2011, when Porsche rolled out an oft-forgotten thing called the Boxster E.
Yes, Porsche took a few 987.2 Boxster S cabriolets, ripped the dinosaur-burning bits out, and shoved in EV powertrain components. Why? Well, if electric cars were a possible future, why not experiment with electric sports cars to see what the future of excitement could be? These prototypes were engineering studies, sponsored by grant money and built to examine the feasibility and livability of an electric sports car.
Of course, converting a combustion-powered car into an electric car brought up some challenges, but Porsche seemed able to solve them in rather logical ways. Electric vehicles don’t have a belt drive system to power the air-con compressor, so Porsche went with an electric unit. Since this was 2011 and battery swapping was still a hot topic, Porsche decided to use motorsports-style dry break connectors on the battery cooling system to enable swapping packs without getting any air pockets in the coolant pipes. Oh, and then there was the matter of how quiet EVs are. I’ll let Porsche speak for itself on this one:
Because all Boxster Es are comparatively quiet on the road, Porsche engineers have designed an Active Sound Design system that provides drivers with acoustic feedback as well as alerting any passersby.
Yep, fake engine noise in EVs isn’t anything new. I really wish I could find a clip of what these noises sounded like. Did they try to emulate a flat-six? Were they just dull roars? Did they lean full comedy and mimic a Carrera GT? You must admit, an electric Boxster making Carrera GT noises would be pretty hilarious.
Unfortunately, throwback EVs come with throwback specs. DC fast charging? Never heard of it. AC charging? Well, each prototype’s onboard charger could only take a maximum of 3.3 kW, making for a rather leisurely nine-hour charging time. In addition, top speed was capped at a meager 93 mph and zero-to-62 mph happened in a leisurely 9.8 seconds, not exactly 21st-century Porsche sports car territory. Oh, and range worked out to just 107 miles.
However, Porsche didn’t just build two rear-wheel-drive Boxster E prototypes. It also built a dual-motor all-wheel-drive Boxster E with 180 kW of electric thrust. This high-power prototype dashed from zero-to-62 mph in just 5.5 seconds, and its top speed was a much better 124 mph. Now that’s more like it. Oh, and even with all-wheel-drive, this Boxster E still had a frunk, as the front drive unit went where the fuel tank in a Boxster S would go. Volkswagen, take notes.
What’s more, all Porsche Boxster E prototypes used lithium iron phosphate batteries, so they were very ahead-of-the-curve on that front. With a gross capacity of 29 kWh and a net usable capacity of 26 kWh, each battery pack resided in the same space usually used for a flat-six. This meant that all the battery pack’s weight was within the wheelbase, and although center of gravity likely wasn’t as good as it would’ve been with an underfloor pack, it made for a nice, low driving position.
Of course, if we’re talking about electric sports cars from the post-recession era, we need to compare the Boxster E with the Tesla Roadster. Surprisingly, the Porsche compares quite well with the original version of Tesla’s first product. The first Roadster did zero-to-60 mph in 5.7 seconds and had a top speed of 125 mph. Mind you, the Roadster had much better range than the Boxster E at 221 miles, but it also had a much larger battery pack–53 kWh gross to the Boxster’s 29 kWh gross.
It’s fitting that Porsche’s modern foray into electrification used a small sports car that looks a bit like an overturned bathtub. After all, the Type 64 set the foundation for every combustion-powered Porsche since, so a Boxster as genesis for the Taycan, upcoming electric Macan, and upcoming electric 718 only feels right. What’s more, it means that a production-spec electric sports car has been a long time coming, so there’s a very good chance it’ll be annoyingly brilliant. That’s the Porsche way, after all.
(Photo credits: Porsche)
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The year before this Lotus was showing off the range extended EV Evora 414E prototype.
Surely the easiest car ever to name an EV version of, but they muffed it up. EVora was right there.
Anyway, bring on the EV sports cars. At my current mileage I’ve got a solid ten years before my 86 starts getting worn out, and I’d like the depreciation to really kick in before I get an EV.
Just today i was reading a news story about a plant in EV loving Norway that cant make enough artillery shells for Ukraine to fight against Russia because the local TicToc plant is using most of the electricity made to store their cat videos. Apparently everywhere these huge tech storage places are electricity is expensive and not to be had. Also the UK had to turn down building a new housing community because not enough power. So explain again how if we already cant create enough electricity to keep the lites on or protect ourselves from tyranny we can convert 200,000,000 ICE cars more or less to all electric? Plus gas stoves, lawn mowers, and ladies all important muscle massagers that are very weirdly penis shaped?
Im just asking for a friend.
Consider that it takes about 8 kWh of electricity to crack a gallon of gasoline out of crude oil. That 8 kWh of electricity would take this electric Boxster about the same distance as a gasoline of gasoline would take the gasoline variant.
With the flat-six, the Boxster is certainly lighter, has a lower center of gravity, and needs no artificial sound generators. At a guess, I’d say it’d be less expensive as well.
Of course the ICE Boxster is not state-of-the-moment cool….
I’ve seen enough commentary to know that electrification has captured the hearts and minds of a lot of people, all of whom appear ready to call ICE powerplants a dead issue. I don’t think so. The may last only until the last unreconstructed old farts like me are gone, but the sound and response of a Porsche flat-six gets me every time.
With Porsche pushing for carbon neutral fuels, it would appear they’re with you.
I want to see Porsche use Tesla’s synchronous reluctance motor and their highest specific-capacity batteries. After removing the ICE parts, it might be possible to make a Boxster EV with 200 miles range that weighs similarly to the gasoline version, while being able to out-accelerate it. We’d be looking at a 50 kWh pack pushing 250 horsepower peak to make this possible.
Porsche doesn’t need Tesla, they have Rimac.