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Pickering’s Porsche Experience Centre off to the races

Grant Cameron
Pickering’s Porsche Experience Centre off to the races
COURTESY PORSCHE CARS CANADA - Construction is set to begin soon on a Porsche Experience Centre (PEC) in Pickering, Ont. that includes a two-kilometre-long driving circuit. The PEC will be the 10th in the world and third of its kind in North America after Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Construction is set to begin soon on a Porsche Experience Centre (PEC) in Pickering, Ont. that will have an environmentally responsible design, extensive electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and a two-kilometre-long driving circuit.

Global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK is designing the building and planning to incorporate innovative technologies focused on sustainability.

The driving facilities will include a low-friction handling circuit and a large drift circle to highlight the technological prowess of the firm’s sports cars.

The PEC will be the 10th in the world and third of its kind in North America after Atlanta and Los Angeles. It will be located on a dedicated, 20-acre site at the Durham Live development.

A casino and luxury hotel are currently operating there, and the site will include a 2,500-seat concert venue and more than 400,000 square feet of retail space.

A groundbreaking was held at the site in late July before a group of more than 100 attendees, including city and provincial officials. Target completion date for the PEC is 2024. Financial figures for the project remain undisclosed.

“The kick-off to this construction project represents the culmination of years of dedication and planning by teams on both sides of the Atlantic,” says Marc Ouayoun, president and CEO of Porsche Cars Canada, Ltd. “More than a circuit, the future Porsche Experience Centre Toronto will represent a unique, exhilarating, and memorable place where visitors can fully immerse themselves in the brand and its products.”

With the new facility, the company wants to show existing customers and fans in Canada that Porsche is not only driven by racing and competition.

“We are driven by dreams,” says Ouayoun. “The Porsche dream embraces so many dimensions – history, innovation, communities, sustainability, progress, diversity, driving experiences and more. The Porsche Experience Centre Toronto will be the brand home that unites all these characteristics in Canada.”

A bird’s-eye-view rendering of the Durham Live site shows several hotel towers, the casino, a concert venue at the back and a driving circuit with plenty of twists, turns, loops and straightaways. The PEC, intended to be a domestic and international tourist destination, will enable visitors to see current and historic Porsche vehicles. They will also be able to stop at a café and browse a Porsche shop.

The driving circuit is being designed by Tilke Engineering to highlight the technological prowess of the brand’s two- and four-door sports cars – in their ideal playground. Visitors will be able to experience vehicle dynamics, technology and emotion first-hand with expert guidance from Porsche instructors through various driving modules all year long.

“This will allow customers and fans to immerse themselves in the world of Porsche regardless of whether they own one or not,” explains Ouayoun.

The construction and building footprint details of the centre are still being finalized. However, in designing the project, the environment and sustainability are top of mind.

“We will have extensive charging infrastructure onsite in order to demonstrate our growing range of BEV models,” notes Ouayoun. “As we are still working on the building design, it is still too early to provide more details.”

The project aligns with Porsche’s ambition to be CO2 net neutral in 2030 across the global value chain. EV charging infrastructure is being incorporated in the PEC’s plan, extending the brand’s Destination Charging program. Moreover, great emphasis is being placed on using an environmentally responsible layout for not only the design, but for the build, and operation as well.

Porsche, which in 2021 delivered 9,141 vehicles in Canada, marking its best-ever sales year, chose the Durham Live site for the project because the GTA is part of the Great Lakes Megalopolis with 98 million people within a 500-kilometre radius. Toronto is also one of the fastest growing and largest cities in North America. Porsche has its Canadian headquarters in Toronto and a parts distribution centre in Mississauga.

The Durham Live development, which will feature 400,000 square feet of retail space, is also reachable in approximately 30 minutes from Toronto Pearson Airport and 30 minutes from downtown Toronto. Moreover, it is located off the highway connecting Toronto and Montreal with 250,000 vehicles passing daily.

The project was first announced by Porsche last November. In addition to Atlanta and Los Angeles, the company also has experience centres in Leipzig, Silverstone, Le Mans, Shanghai, Germany’s Hockenheimring, Franciacorta in Italy, and Tokyo.

“Durham Live is an entertainment playground built for diverse demographics, thrill seekers, sports car aficionados, or the culinary connoisseurs; we look forward to having the upcoming PEC Toronto as a fundamental component of our experience,” says Steve Apostolopoulos, managing partner and president of Pickering Developments, owners of the Durham Live district.

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