Skip to main content

Here’s how Porsche plans to give electric SUVs snow-conquering grip

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Porsche Taycan uses one electric motor per axle to enable all-wheel drive, but Porsche is working on a more elaborate way to power all four wheels. The company revealed plans for an electric all-wheel drive system that will use four motors. The system is slated for use in future Porsche electric SUVs.

More motors should equal more power, but that isn’t the real reason why Porsche chose this setup. It’s actually because the four-motor system enables more precise control. With two electric motors mounted on each axle, the system can not only precisely distribute power front to back, but also side to side. This enables an advanced form of torque vectoring — shunting power to one side to help the car turn more easily.

Several automakers already offer torque-vectoring all-wheel drive systems, but those systems work either by applying the brakes to certain wheels, or with mechanical differentials. The advantage of an electronic system, according to Porsche, is that electric motors can react more quickly, and allow finer adjustments, than mechanical setups. Changes to the system can also be made using software, without having to swap out any mechanical components, Porsche noted.

Porsche isn’t the first automaker to propose electric torque vectoring. The original Audi E-Tron Quattro concept used two electric motors on the rear axle for torque vectoring, with a third electric motor at the front. However, Audi went with a more conventional system, with one electric motor on each axle, for the E-Tron production model. The Rimac Concept One and Concept Two electric supercars features electric torque vectoring for both axles. If this tech is good enough for those cars — both of which make over 1,000 horsepower — it should be good enough for an SUV.

Porsche did not say which vehicle would be the first to get its trick electric all-wheel drive system. The automaker previously said it would launch an electric version of the Macan in 2021, so that would be the first logical opportunity. But it’s also possible that Porsche is saving this tech for another, unannounced, electric SUV further down the pipeline. Porsche will also introduce a production version of the Taycan-based Cross Turismo wagon concept, but that car will likely use the same two-motor all-wheel drive system as its sedan sibling.

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Here’s how Volkswagen plans to electrify America’s most popular car segment
Volkswagen ID.4 prototype

The electric, Tiguan-sized ID.4 is a family-friendly crossover that will launch Volkswagen's electrification offensive in the United States. It won't make its full debut until later in 2020, but the German carmaker released images of a thinly camouflaged prototype to give us an idea of how the ID.Crozz concept has changed on its way to production.

The ID.4 rides on the same modular MEB platform as the ID.3, a Golf-sized hatchback not coming to America. It's a highly flexible architecture Volkswagen developed in house from scratch specifically to underpin electric cars. The ID.Buggy that I drove in California in 2019 was also built on MEB, as were all of the ID-badged concepts shown over the past couple of years. The platform uses a single electric motor mounted over the rear axle in its standard configuration, but making it all-wheel drive is as simple as adding a second motor that spins the front wheels.

Read more
GM gets serious with $2.2 billion investment in electric trucks, SUVs
General Motors dedicated electric car factory

After years of talk, General Motors is finally getting serious about building large numbers of electric cars. The largest United States automaker will spend $2.2 billion to retool its Detroit-Hamtramck factory for electric-car production. This will be the first GM factory dedicated to electric cars, with cars scheduled to start rolling off its assembly line in 2021.

GM currently has just one all-electric model in its U.S. lineup -- the Chevrolet Bolt EV. That car is built in a factory that also makes gasoline models. GM has said it plans to launch 20 all-electric models globally 2023. While not all of those cars will be sold in the U.S., the plan still requires GM to massively expand manufacturing infrastructure. The investment in the Detroit-Hamtramck plant is the first indication that GM is actually following through with that plan.

Read more
Electric SUV co-developed by Subaru, Toyota may not appear until 2025

Subaru and Toyota have entered into an agreement to co-develop electric cars, but the first product of that partnership may not appear for several years. Subaru unveiled a mockup of an electric SUV at a technology briefing in Japan, but wouldn't offer a more specific launch date than "before 2025," according to Automotive News Europe. What's more, Subaru's CEO said the United States will not be a priority for electric models.

The mockup had a tall SUV body, with a low roofline and steeply raked rear window, according to Automotive News Europe, giving it a sleeker look than more traditional models like the current Subaru Forester. Black plastic cladding over the wheel arches, similar to the Subaru Crosstrek, is meant to give the vehicle a more rugged appearance. The mockup also had cameras in place of exterior mirrors, according to Automotive News Europe. Some production models, including the Lexus ES and Audi E-Tron, have camera mirrors in certain markets, but the technology is not currently legal in the U.S.

Read more