A lot of the focus on making all-electric vehicles truly practical revolves around how far they can be driven on a single full charge of the battery. Although more and more batteries can be added to increase range, the weight that adds causes its own problems. Now it appears Porsche is pursuing a slightly different way of boosting all-electric range by employing an 800-volt system in its new Mission E, which as well as offering a 400km range, can also be recharged in as little as 20 minutes.
What Porsche is doing is increasing voltage instead of current, and this 800-volt system is double the voltage most automakers are working with at the moment. The company has some experience already with this way of doing things as it has already used it in its 919 Hybrid Le Mans racer. Through increasing voltage instead of current, there’s no need to employ thicker cables and that helps to avoid a huge increase in weight.
However, using a system like this in a car doesn’t come without its own issues, and the need for charging and battery hardware that can operate at 800 volts is the main drawback of opting for this way of doing things. Porsche is currently working with electronics giants LG and Panasonic on the chemistry and packs, and they expect to see a five percent increase in lithium-ion battery performance per-year in the not-too-distant future. The big problem here though is the need for a dedicated 800-volt charger, which will inevitably severely restrict the ability for Porsche Mission E drivers to find places they can recharge away from their home.
The prototype recharger Porsche is working on is an accumulator, which actually stores the power instead of simply delivering it to the car’s battery straight from the mains supply. The system the German automaker is developing is said to store enough power to recharge three vehicles one after another, without the need to access the grid. Porsche says that eventually, when out on the road, drivers will be able to reserve a place at a network of Turbo Charger stations.