Porsche Taycan is the brand's first fully electric vehicle

Porsche Mission E Concept

Porsche Mission E Concept

Porsche's electric challenge to Tesla - formerly known as the Mission E and on Friday renamed the Taycan - is drawing "exceptional" interest ahead of its 2019 debut, the automaker's head of US operations told USA TODAY.

We'll have more, including a first drive of the Taycan, as soon as we get it.

The name, confirmed by the firm's CEO Oliver Blume as part of Porsche's 70th anniversary celebrations, is said to translate loosely as "lively, young horse" from a Eurasian dialect- a nod to the firm's crest, which has featured a leaping horse since 1952. So now you know.

The future of mobility is another step closer: Series production of the first purely electric Porsche is set to begin next year.

According to Porsche when the Taycan arrives, it will feature two electric motors producing more than 600 horsepower and will accelerate up to 60 miles per hour in less than 3.5 seconds.

Porsche promises a "level of continuous power that is unmatched by any other electric vehicle". The vehicle has a driving range of more than 500 km (310 miles) on a single charge under NEDC testing.

Porsche Mission E Concept

And third, while the all-electric, 600-hp Taycan - say "tie-con" - no doubt will present itself as a cutting-edge high-tech status symbol and threat to Tesla's Model S, it's very clear that this top-range Panamera hints at how Porsche plans to leverage electric motors to enhance the performance and versatility of its gas-powered line-up.

Although it's not due for reveal until 2019, ahead of arriving in showrooms in 2020, Porsche has already racked up thousands of test miles in mules that appear to be further advanced than regular cars at this stage of their development process. Tesla now has stores where its cars and solar products are sold, and soon will add fix centers, but they do not present themselves as traditional dealerships. The electric sports auto is expected to go on sale at the end of 2019. Up until now, the Model S has been without any direct competition since its debut in 2012, although that is changing.

The company also marked the occasion by revealing a 911 Speedster Concept, an open-top version of its iconic sports vehicle.

Interest in the Taycan has already been huge, Porsche says, though sales aren't expected to kick off in the USA for some time yet. It had previously been unveiled as the Porsche Mission E in concept form.

Porsche is doubling down on electric cars, saying it will pour over €6 billion (about $7.1 million) into electromobility by 2022.

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