Research & Development

Driving cutting-edge technology to the limit through innovation: a speciality that Porsche is passionate about. The company offers the sportiest vehicles in their respective segments and sets important benchmarks in other areas too – from alternative drives to digitally assisted production processes. Some current examples from the reporting year help to illustrate this.

911 Turbo, 2020, Porsche AG

Electric motors based on know-how from Weissach

Porsche’s strategy has three pillars: dynamic electric drives, efficient plug-in hybrids and emotive combustion engines. Despite all the differences, each of these pillars has one thing in common, the Porsche sporting tradition, which allows our customers to fulfil their dreams regardless of the powertrain.

The all-electric Porsche Taycan is setting standards in innovation. The Taycan has already won 50 international awards, predominantly in its main markets of Germany, China, the USA and the UK. To take one example, the AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Report produced by the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) named the electric sports car the most significant innovator on the global automotive market in July 2020 with a total of 27 different innovations to its name. The scientists at CAM classed 13 of these innovations as world firsts, including the 800-volt architecture, the two-speed transmission on the rear axle, the high recuperation power of up to 265 kW () and the best cW value in the segment (as low as 0.22).

Porsche’s technology laboratory is motorsport – including for its series-production vehicles. Insights from LMP1 hybrid systems, for example, provide a strong foundation on which to develop the brand’s electric vehicles. The Porsche 919 Hybrid won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times from 2015 to 2017. It already uses the 800-volt technology that was subsequently brought to series production in the form of the Taycan. This voltage level offers several advantages: It creates a drive with a high continuous power output and reduces the charging time. Reduced cable cross-sections also reduce the weight of the car. The “Porsche E-Performance Powertrain” from the Porsche 99X racing car that competed in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship also built on experience gained in LMP1.

Porsche has a tradition of constantly breaking new ground in drive train development. Its electric motors are no different. In-house developments optimise the performance of the brand’s electrically powered sports cars and improve their efficiency. The permanently excited synchronous motors of the Taycan are highly efficient due to a range of individual measures. For example, the magnetic fields have been optimised. Each motor is also fitted with a cooling water jacket around the stator.

This immovable part of the electric motor, in turn, is not wrapped in insulated copper wire with a standard, round cross-section. In the Taycan, the wire has a rectangular cross-section, which is why the coils can be extremely close together. This technology is called “hairpin”: The wires are bent and their shape — before they are inserted into the stator’s laminated core — is reminiscent of that of hairpins. The open ends are welded together using a laser beam. The result is a compact and comparatively lightweight electric motor with improved heat dissipation and optimised efficiency. This gives a higher range and guarantees permanently high performance.

“Electromobility is a completely inspiring and convincing technology. But in isolation, it is moving us forward in sustainability terms less quickly than we would like. That’s why we are also committed to eFuels, including in relation to its potential application in motorsport.”

Michael Steiner Member of the Executive Board – Research and Development

New 911 GT3 Cup, 2020, Porsche AG
Panamera - Technology

Hybrid models with new battery and greater range

The batteries for electric drives are constantly being developed. The recently unveiled Cayenne and Panamera models with hybrid drive have also benefited from the advances being made. The gross capacity of the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery is now 17.9 kWh compared with the previous 14.1 kWh. As a result, the purely electric range has been increased by up to 30 percent. The new Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid (fuel consumption combined (WLTP) 2.9 – 2.7 l/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined (WLTP) 66 – 62 g/km, electric power consumption* combined (WLTP) 24.6 – 24.0 kWh/100 km, electric range combined (WLTP) 48 - 50 km, electric range in town (WLTP) 49 - 50 km, fuel consumption combined (NEDC) 2.7 l/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined (NEDC) 62 g/km, electric power consumption* combined (NEDC) 21.8 kWh/100 km) can now run for up to 50 kilometres, while the Cayenne E-Hybrid (fuel consumption combined (WLTP) 3.7 – 3.1 l/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined (WLTP) 83 – 71 g/km, electric power consumption* combined (WLTP) 26.5 – 25.1 kWh/100 km, electric range combined (WLTP) 41 – 44 km, electric range in town (WLTP) 44 – 48 km, fuel consumption combined (NEDC) 2.5 – 2.4 l/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined (NEDC) 58 – 56 g/km, electric power consumption* combined (NEDC) 22.0 – 21.6 kWh/100 km) reaches up to 48 kilometres (WLTP EAER City in both cases). 

The electric motor is integrated into the Tiptronic S eight-gear automatic gearbox in the plug-in hybrid models of the Cayenne and into the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (PDK) in the Panamera. With 100 kW (136 hp Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid: fuel consumption combined (WLTP) 2.9 – 2.7 l/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined (WLTP) 66 – 62 g/km, electric power consumption* combined (WLTP) 24.6 – 24.0 kWh/100 km, electric range combined (WLTP) 48 - 50 km, electric range in town (WLTP) 49 - 50 km, fuel consumption combined (NEDC) 2.7 l/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined (NEDC) 62 g/km, electric power consumption* combined (NEDC) 21.8 kWh/100 km) and 400 Newton metres of torque, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid can reach a purely electric top speed of 140 km/h. The combustion engine takes over when the power demand increases or when switching to the driving modes “Sport” or “Sport Plus”. In addition, the full recuperation power is available at all times. This means that the E-Charge mode is now more efficient than before. In the “Sport” and “Sport Plus” performance modes, the battery is always charged to a minimum level to provide sufficient boost for dynamic driving. This is now achieved even more effectively with a higher, reproducible charging power.

With a total of 515 kW (700 hp fuel consumption combined (WLTP) 2.9 – 2.7 l/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined (WLTP) 66 – 62 g/km, electric power consumption* combined (WLTP) 24.6 – 24.0 kWh/100 km, electric range combined (WLTP) 48 - 50 km, electric range in town (WLTP) 49 - 50 km, fuel consumption combined (NEDC) 2.7 l/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined (NEDC) 62 g/km, electric power consumption* combined (NEDC) 21.8 kWh/100 km) and 870 Newton metres of torque, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid is the most powerful model in the range. These figures are based on the combination of a four-litre V8 biturbo engine with 420 kW (571 hp) and the electric engine with 100 kW (136 hp). The result is exceptional driving performance: in combination with the standard Sport Chrono Package, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid manages the sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds – 0.2 seconds quicker than its predecessor, and puts in a top speed of 315 km/h – an increase of 5 km/h.

911 GT3 RS, 2020, Porsche AG

eFuels for combustion engines

From 2025, Porsche will be selling half of all its vehicles with e-drives – both fully and partially electric. Porsche vehicles typically tend to be driven for a very long time. Around 70 percent of all Porsche cars ever built still exist. This is one of the reasons why the company announced in 2020 that it was to get involved in the process of researching and industrialising synthetic fuels. Since such fuels are produced with the help of electrical energy from renewable sources, they are referred to as eFuels. Porsche is targeting the development of eFuels that comply with current fuel standards. These can therefore be used in all combustion engines – in current models as well as in the brand’s classics and in motorsport. A major advantage compared with hydrogen, for example, is that eFuels can be distributed via the existing filling station network.

The key argument for eFuels: They can help reduce the amount of CO2 emitted from fossil fuels that enters the earth’s atmosphere. For eFuels, normal water (H2O) is first split into the gases hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2) by means of electrolysis. In the next step, the hydrogen is converted into methanol (CH3OH) in a methanol synthesis process using carbon dioxide (CO2) extracted from the air.

The eMethanol produced in this way can be used in many industrial processes as a “green substitute” for conventional methanol, which is normally extracted from crude oil or natural gas. The process route envisaged by Porsche will convert the eMethanol into petrol using the methanol-to-gasoline (MtG) process and then refine the fuel into a standard-compliant petrol.

The efficient and ecological production of the electricity needed for the electrolysis is crucial for the overall environmental balance of eFuels. Ideally, it should be generated in regions of the world with good climate conditions for green power generation. Wind turbines in South America, for example, can generate approximately four times more energy than equivalent installations in Germany. Against this backdrop, Porsche is developing and implementing a pilot project in Chile together with Siemens Energy and a number of international companies. The aim is to create the world’s first integrated and commercial large-scale plant for the production of eFuels. Ideally, methanol synthesis should take place directly on site, as transporting electricity across continents always involves very high losses. The resulting methanol or the fuel obtained from it can, however, be transported by ocean-going tankers to European refineries at comparatively low cost, with the refineries then producing the finished fuel.

Laser metal fusion process, 3D printing, 2020, Porsche AG

3D printing

The development of innovative vehicle technologies repeatedly results in the creation of new production methods. Various vehicle components, such as for small or special series for example, could be produced using 3D printers in future. The experts working at the Weissach Development Centre firmly believe that this will be the case, and have good arguments to back up their conviction. These include pistons produced using the 3D metal printer for the high-performance engine in the 911 GT2 RS. The highlight of the pilot project: The pistons have been designed with an integrated cooling channel, which cannot be produced using conventional methods. This channel reduces the temperature load on the pistons. 

Another advantage: Compared with series-production forged pistons, the weight is reduced by at least ten percent. This increases engine speed and thus the power by up to 22 kW (30 hp). The pistons from the 3D printer can also withstand the highest demands. They survived a test programme over a simulated 24 hours on a high-speed track at 250 km/h without suffering any damage. This corresponds to a distance of 6,000 kilometres. They were also subjected to 135 hours under full load as well as 25 hours of towing load at a range of speeds. Porsche has been implementing this project together with its partners Mahle, Trumpf and Carl Zeiss.

The prototype of the complete alloy housing of an e-drive has also been produced using 3D printing. It weighs less than a conventionally cast component and reduces the total weight of the drive by around ten percent. Special structures, which are only possible thanks to 3D printing, also double the rigidity in heavily loaded areas. Another advantage of additive manufacturing: numerous functions and components can be integrated. This significantly reduces the assembly effort and brings direct advantages in terms of part quality.

3D printing is currently a particularly attractive option for special and small series as well as for motorsport – from both an economic and a technical perspective. Since May 2020, Porsche has also been offering a bodyform full bucket seat individually produced by 3D printing for the 911 and 718 models. Porsche Classic has plastic, steel and alloy parts reproduced using additive processes, thus closing delivery gaps affecting its classic cars.

Patents as the basis of innovation

Patents form the basis for the long-term and safe use of innovative developments. However, patent law is in a state of flux: In the past, Porsche’s main focus was on classic automotive technology – from chassis development to the combustion engine. Now, topics such as e-mobility, connectivity, autonomous driving and digitalisation are becoming increasingly important. Patents of relevance to today’s vehicle components are therefore no longer held exclusively by traditional car manufacturers, but also by companies from the fields of electronics and mobile communications. Artificial intelligence (AI) methods are also growing ever more significant.

The Porsche “Property rights and licences” department in Weissach has adapted accordingly and, among other measures, has added experts in AI to its ranks. The department carries out the foundational work for modern patent protection: In itself, software – a central component of today’s vehicles – is not classed as an invention and therefore cannot be protected by patent. This changes when fundamental concepts of a technical application are controlled by a new computer program. In other words,  if software makes a technical contribution to solving a problem, it may be protected under patent law.

For example: Porsche has applied for a comprehensive patent for the calibration of control units with the help of AI. Sensors record the data of the device to be controlled – such as parameters for the shifting processes of a PDK transmission or for knocking noises in the engine – and transfer these to algorithms for evaluation. The AI process now independently searches for the optimal control unit setting by making adjustments to the transmission tuning or the ignition timing. It records when a gear change has become smoother or a combustion process has taken place without knocking, for example, and stores the corresponding setting value for optimisation of the processes. 

Where developers previously had to rely on a laborious trial-and-error method, this technology achieves the optimal value independently and more quickly with the help of “AI-enhanced learning”. The method can also be applied in other technical fields. For patent lawyers, the concept of “technicity” is key. Because the technicity required under German and European patent law is applicable in this case, this type of method can be protected in a similar way to classic inventions in automotive engineering.

Technologies “Made in Weissach”

The Weissach Development Centre is the beating heart of innovation at Porsche. It is the company’s think tank. From the initial sketch to the finished prototype, vehicles have been developed, tested and prepared for series production here since 1971 with short paths between the individual specialist areas. Design, model construction and first prototypes, testing of aerodynamics, acoustics and electronics, development of drive systems, steering systems and chassis, safety tests and trials, its own test track as well as Porsche’s motorsport department – EZW brings together all of these elements.

The sports car manufacturer relies on traditional craftsmanship as well as state-of-the-art technology. Just under 6,800 people are employed at the site, around 80 percent of whom work in development. These employees are shaping change for Porsche, combining the brand’s traditional genes with the technologies of tomorrow, and creating new inspirational and emotive products time and time again.

 

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Consumption data

Cayenne E-Hybrid

WLTP*
  • 3.7 – 3.1 l/100 km
  • 83 – 71 g/km
  • 26.5 – 25.1 kWh/100 km
  • 41 – 44 km

Cayenne E-Hybrid

Fuel consumption / Emissions
fuel consumption combined (WLTP) 3.7 – 3.1 l/100 km
CO₂ emissions combined (WLTP) 83 – 71 g/km
electric power consumption* combined (WLTP) 26.5 – 25.1 kWh/100 km
electric range combined (WLTP) 41 – 44 km
electric range in town (WLTP) 44 – 48 km
NEFZ*
  • 2.5 – 2.4 l/100 km
  • 58 – 56 g/km
  • 22.0 – 21.6 kWh/100 km

Cayenne E-Hybrid

Fuel consumption / Emissions
fuel consumption combined (NEDC) 2.5 – 2.4 l/100 km
CO₂ emissions combined (NEDC) 58 – 56 g/km
electric power consumption* combined (NEDC) 22.0 – 21.6 kWh/100 km

911 Turbo

WLTP*
  • 12.3 – 12.0 l/100 km
  • 279 – 271 g/km

911 Turbo

Fuel consumption / Emissions
fuel consumption combined (WLTP) 12.3 – 12.0 l/100 km
CO₂ emissions combined (WLTP) 279 – 271 g/km
NEFZ*
  • 11.1 l/100 km
  • 254 g/km

911 Turbo

Fuel consumption / Emissions
fuel consumption combined (NEDC) 11.1 l/100 km
CO₂ emissions combined (NEDC) 254 g/km

Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

WLTP*
  • 2.9 – 2.7 l/100 km
  • 66 – 62 g/km
  • 24.6 – 24.0 kWh/100 km
  • 48 - 50 km

Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

Fuel consumption / Emissions
fuel consumption combined (WLTP) 2.9 – 2.7 l/100 km
CO₂ emissions combined (WLTP) 66 – 62 g/km
electric power consumption* combined (WLTP) 24.6 – 24.0 kWh/100 km
electric range combined (WLTP) 48 - 50 km
electric range in town (WLTP) 49 - 50 km
NEFZ*
  • 2.7 l/100 km
  • 62 g/km
  • 21.8 kWh/100 km

Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

Fuel consumption / Emissions
fuel consumption combined (NEDC) 2.7 l/100 km
CO₂ emissions combined (NEDC) 62 g/km
electric power consumption* combined (NEDC) 21.8 kWh/100 km

Cayenne E-Hybrid Models

WLTP*

Cayenne E-Hybrid Models

Fuel consumption / Emissions
NEFZ*
  • 3.3 – 2.4 l/100 km
  • 76 – 56 g/km
  • 23.5 – 21.6 kWh/100 km

Cayenne E-Hybrid Models

Fuel consumption / Emissions
fuel consumption combined (NEDC) 3.3 – 2.4 l/100 km
CO₂ emissions combined (NEDC) 76 – 56 g/km
electric power consumption* combined (NEDC) 23.5 – 21.6 kWh/100 km