Klaus Zellmer, CEO of Porsche Cars North America, tells Automotive News his company plans to install a network of at least 500 fast chargers throughout the United States by the end of 2019. Each of the 189 Porsche dealers in the US will have at least one and there will be 300 more of the 800 volt chargers located along major highways.
Porsche expects its electric cars — the Mission E sedan and the Cross Turismo — will be charged close to the owner’s home most of the time. But on those occasions when the cars’ 300 mile range is not enough for long distance driving, the fast chargers will be able to provide an 80% charge in about 20 minutes. “If you want to buy that car, you want to know what happens if I go skiing and go further than 300 miles,” Zellmer says. “What do I do? So we need to have answers for that.”
Dealers are being asked to install at least one fast charger at each location along with a battery buffer that stores electricity from the grid. With the buffer, each charger will be able to supply the needs of three cars simultaneously. The cost for a charger and buffer system is much lower than a comparable installation that relies exclusively on the electrical grid. Porsche has spent more than $1 million to install six fast chargers that charge directly from the grid at its US headquarters in Atlanta, Zellmer says.
Dealers will have the option of providing the chargers at no cost to drivers or charging for their use. Zellmer suggests that free charging might be a good marketing tool to get potential customers into Porsche stores while their cars are charging. Each store in the US has been visited by a third party vendor — either ChargePoint, EVgo, or Electrify America — during the past 6 months to get an idea where the charging installation will go and how much it will cost. “It’s not a minor cost,” Zellmer says. “It certainly is six digit numbers that our dealers will have to take.”
Drivers will pay to use the chargers, unless the service is provided free by a dealer. “We are pretty certain that it’s not free of charge,” Zellmer says. “It’s too early to talk about how exactly that payment process for customers will work. There are various opportunities. You could buy a package all included for the car. It could be a membership card that you use. We’re not quite there yet.” Porsche is also considering a network of destination chargers at golf clubs and hotels, but they would not be DC fast chargers.
A few questions have not been answered as of yet, such as whether drivers of cars from other manufacturers will be able to use the Porsche network. And since Porsche is part of the Volkswagen Group, will any of the money for the network come from the funds VW has promised to spend on EV charging as part of its penance for poisoning the skies over America with diesel emissions for nearly a decade?
The Porsche Mission E is expected in showrooms by the end of 2019, with the Cross Turismo variant available the following year. “Porsche is on this. We’ll be ready,” says Todd Blue, a member of the Porsche Dealer Board of Regents and CEO of the IndiGO Auto Group, which has Porsche stores in St. Louis, Houston, and Rancho Mirage, California.
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