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

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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.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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