Ruf's Electric Porsche Hits the Road. Slowly.

Looks like the all-electric Porsche that German tuning haus Ruf is building is the real deal, and the early indication from someone who's spent some time behind the wheel is the E-Ruf will reach frightening velocity, but takes its sweet time getting there.

Although the battery-powered Porsche 997 (aka the 911) concept car is drop-dead gorgeous and certainly looks quick, its 204-horsepower motor isn't any more powerful than the one BMW is putting under the hood of the forthcoming electric Mini. But what it lacks in horspoewer, it more than makes up for in torque, cranking out more of it than a Corvette Z06. Head speedmeister Alois Ruf hopes the E-Ruf will hit 160 mph, and he's shooting for a 0 to 60 time under 7 seconds. Seven seconds? In a Porsche? The problem is the car's weight. The E-Ruf tips the scales at more than two tons. Getting something that flabby up to speed ain't easy.

Word of the E-Ruf broke last month — though many motojournos, including us, thought it was based on the Cayman — and Alios Ruf confirmed it earlier this month. Then he invited Patrick Hong of Road & Track to take one for a spin. Ruf started developing the car two years ago with the EV and hybrid experts at Calmotors, who stuffed a 911 with 96 lithium-ion cells manufactured by the British firm Axeon. The battery pack charges in 10 hours, and Ruf's goal is a range of 155 to 200 miles.

The pack powers a 150 kilowatt (204 horsepower) brushless three-phase AC motor built by UQM Technologies. The motor, which is just 15.9 inches around and 9.5 inches long, resides where the boxer six would be in the 911. It produces an impressive 479 foot-pounds of torque, a healthy improvement on the 288 produced by the 911. The motor is mated to the 911's six-speed transmission, but the E-Ruf would probably get a single-speed if it ever saw production. For the sake of comparison, Tesla Motors says its Roadster produces 248 horsepower and 276 foot-pounds of torque. It claims the car does 0 to 60 in 4.0 seconds and has a range of "about 220 miles." Top speed is limited to 125 mph.

Hong says the E-Ruf "moves off quickly with minimal fuss," and with only the whine of an electric motor, "you feel like you're in a spaceship blasting through the galaxy." But performance is hobbled by the car's sheer mass — the battery pack weighs about 1,200 pounds, and the car tips the scale at 4,200 pounds (compared to 3,075 pounds for a 911 Carerra with manual transmission). "On winding road, the E-Ruf's 4200-lb weight is apparent as soon as you make a quick steering input," Hong writes. But, he adds, "we can expect improved handling worthy of the Ruf name." Let's hope the performance improves as well.