Porsche lifts curtain on Taycan production preparation
The German sports car maker will use a new manufacturing process to make its first EV a reality.
Jon WongFormer editor for CNET Cars
Jon Wong was a reviews editor for CNET Cars. He test drove and wrote about new cars and oversaw coverage of automotive accessories and garage gear. In his spare time, he enjoys track days, caring for his fleet of old Japanese cars and searching for the next one to add to his garage.
It's no secret that
has been working toward an electrified future. In motorsports, it has campaigned and won with gas/electric racers and sells hybrid versions of the Panamera and Cayenne SUV. Now the German sports car maker is turning its attention to full electric vehicles. A couple of Mission E concepts have served as precursors to the Taycan production car that will arrive in showrooms by the end of 2019 to give the Tesla Model S a run for its money. The Taycan is expected to pack more than 600 horsepower, be capable of hitting 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and have a roughly 300-mile drive range.
To make the Taycan a reality, Porsche is investing 6 billion euro, which in part has gone to constructing new facilities around its Zuffenhausen, Germany assembly campus that already builds the 911, 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman. The new buildings include a body shop, paint shop and a more than half-mile conveyor system to transport painted Taycan shells to the final assembly line.
Going into the final assembly plant is a new construction process using Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) that's been under development over the past two and half years. Porsche says its new line features the first use of AGVs for continuous series production. Compared to the common skillet conveyor setup, the AGVs don't require tracks in the floor providing the flexibility to implement curves into the line, giving workers more space if needed to maneuver larger parts. Without rigid track links in the floor, the layout can be adjusted quickly later to better handle the construction of future models on the same line.
Currently, 100 associates are fine tuning the flow of the AGV line on a smaller scale in Porsche's pilot center, which is the same place used to build the 918 Spyder supercars. The crew churns out two preproduction vehicles per day. The hope here is to work out all the kinks before the production process is upsized and implemented into the full-fledge Taycan plant.
In all, Porsche says the Taycan launch will add 1,200 new employees. They will mix in with roughly 300 to 400 current personnel from the 911 line who are volunteering to migrate over to EV production and mentor new workers on company culture. Since producing electric vehicles is a new thing to Porsche, all workers will also receive appropriate training regarding safe practices on the handling of EVs.
At launch Porsche is targeting production of 20,000 to 25,000 Taycans per year over the course of two shifts. However, if demand warrants it, company officials says there's plenty of flexibility ranging from extending shifts, Saturday production or adding a third shift. If any of that will be necessary remains to be seen.
Mission E is an all-electric Porsche from the future