PPE to be dedicated EV platform for Porsche, Audi, and Bentley
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What do Porsche’s Mission E and Audi’s E-tron Quattro SUV have in common? The production versions of both, due in 2019, will be built on stop-gap electric vehicle platforms. The Mission E will roll on the Porsche-developed J1 architecture, while the E-tron Quattro will sit on a modified version of the Audi-engineered MLB platform currently used for vehicles as diverse as the Audi A4 and Bentley Bentayga. But Audi techincal development chief Peter Mertens has confirmed both J1 and the modified MLB will be replaced by an all-new premium battery electric vehicle platform.
Codenamed PPE, for premium platform electric, the new architecture will be used for battery electric Bentley, Porsche, and Audi models from about 2022 onwards. Three variants are being developed, with Audi taking lead engineering responsibility for two, and Porsche, one. Neither is working in isolation, however. “These are joint, co-located teams, bringing the best engineering knowhow of the two companies together to make it happen,” said Mertens.
The Bentley Bentayga Hybrid
The decision to create PPE comes off the back of lessons learned during the four-year development of MEB, the dedicated EV platform that will underpin more than 15 mainstream VW Group products by 2025. PPE will leverage component and technology modules from both MEB and Porsche’s J1, but will be optimized to suit larger, higher-performance luxury vehicles, particularly in terms of drivetrain and suspension, plus the voltage system and battery pack.
PPE marks a major u-turn for Audi, which had originally looked at turning the next-generation MLB into what is called a convergence platform—one single architecture that could package internal combustion, hybrid, and battery electric powertrains. That strategy has been abandoned. “We have changed direction,” confirms Mertens. “You give up too much potential if you have a platform that tries to do everything—it’s too expensive, too heavy, it has proportions that do not fit with luxury brands.”
Porsche has bought into the PPE program because it can benefit from the economies of scale generated by sharing hardware under the skin with Audi and Bentley, though all Porsche PPE vehicles will be powered by e-motors developed by Porsche. In addition, PPE gives Porsche the ability to develop all-electric SUVs, something it couldn’t do with the low-floor J1 platform, the development of which was prioritized around sporty handling.
As of right now, J1 will underpin two all-electric Porsches, the Mission E and, though production has not yet officially been confirmed, the Mission E Cross Turismo revealed at Geneva. But there could be more J1-based Porsches before the switch to PPE, says Porsche’s head of BEV, Stefan Weckbach. “If you talk about a two-door, two-seat car, or a convertible, the J1 platform can handle that.” Weckbach adds that rear-drive variants of all J1-based vehicles are also under consideration.
Two-door, two-seat, rear-wheel drive… Is Porsche considering an all-electric 911? “Yes, we’ve thought about it,” says Weckbach, who says the company routinely discusses the future of all its model lines. Weckbach says the only real issue is timing: When consumers begin asking for an electric 911, Porsche plans to be ready.
Due to a technical problem, this story was originally published incomplete. The missing text has since been added.