Porsche is officially in the race to create a more mainstream electric car industry by the end of the decade. The German company—owned by Volkswagen—says it will spend $1 billion to create the Mission E, an electric that will go from zero to 100 km per hour (62 mph) in 3.5 seconds, travel 300 miles on a single charge, and recharge 80% of its battery in 15 minutes.
The Mission E appears aimed to compete with market leader Tesla at the high end of the market. No price was given for the car. But the Dec. 4 announcement—hardening up an unveiling of the Mission E concept car announced in September—also strikes a second important chord: It is potential PR relief for Porsche’s parent company after a seemingly relentless drumbeat of scandal over VW’s emissions-testing equipment.
Only a day earlier, Ulrich Hackberg, a senior executive at VW-owned Audi, resigned over his link to the emissions issue. Hackberg is one of eight company officials suspended after VW admitted installing “defeat” devices that allowed its cars to meet emissions requirements while continuing to spew pollutants into the air.
Until now, electrics have largely sold only to a niche market—environmentally or fashion-minded motorists, mainly. The race to mainstream them begins next month, when GM unveils its $30,000, 200-mile Chevy Bolt. In March, Tesla plans to unveil its $35,000 Model III, also promoted as traveling 200 miles on a single charge; the company has said the Model III will go on sale in 2017.
Both Audi and now Porsche are poised to provide substantial competition. But VW itself seems likely to push very hard into electrics given the black eye its previously-touted diesel-driven cars have suffered of late.