The new all-electric Taycan four-door coupe was a smart initial move for Porsche’s EV program, because it more than respects the brand’s performance-first image while delivering practical and luxurious four-person mobility. Likewise, the even newer Taycan Cross Turismo maintains all of the go-fast goodness of the original, while adding a slightly elevated and elongated roof for a crossover-type shooting brake body style that results in an even more pragmatic alternative. Now, however, Porsche is transferring its newfound electric knowhow to its most popular model.
The 100-percent plug-in electric Macan prototype seen here will become available to Porsche Centre Vancouver customers in 2023, and will likely achieve the top sales spot in the electric vehicle lineup. After much testing at the Weissach, Germany-based Porsche Development Centre’s proving grounds, the new Macan EV is ready to hit public roads, albeit wearing a camouflaged disguise due to rolling on a second-generation chassis wrapped in all-new body panels that have yet to be revealed.
“Testing in a real-life environment is now getting underway – one of the most important milestones in the development process,” commented Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, at Porsche AG.
A total of three million kilometres of worldwide testing in varying conditions will have been performed before the Macan EV goes on sale in two years, not to mention “countless” virtual kilometres logged on even before these prototypes started lapping the track and experiencing real-life interaction with busy Stuttgart traffic.
Digital development reduces costs and saves time, plus it preserves resources, thus adding to the Macan EV’s cradle-to-grave sustainability. In place of actual running prototypes, digital “computational models” replicate the real-world “properties, systems and power units of a vehicle to a high degree of accuracy,” said Porsche in a press release. In order to simulate multiple development categories, which include aerodynamics, energy management, operation and acoustics, the brand used 20 digital prototypes.
“We regularly collate the data from the various departments and use it to build up a complete, virtual vehicle that is as detailed as possible,” said Andreas Huber, manager for digital prototypes at Porsche. “This allows previously undiscovered design conflicts to be swiftly identified and resolved.”
Aerodynamics specialists such as Huber are amongst the first engineers to ever work with digital prototypes.
“We started with a flow-around model when the project first started about four years ago,” commented Thomas Wiegand, Director of aerodynamics development.
Reducing aerodynamic drag is critical for achieving the new Macan EV’s long range targets, with even seemingly small flow enhancements making a massive difference. Porsche’s engineers use simulations in order to fine-tune such details, particularly the cooling air ducts. Such calculations help the engineers best arrange components for optimal efficiency, plus provide the required data to estimate differences in real-life temperatures.
According to Porsche, the new testing methods allow an extremely precise simulation of both aerodynamics and thermodynamics.
“The digital world is indispensable to the development of the all-electric Macan,” added Wiegand.
From the battery to the electric motor, the Macan EV’s electric drive system uses a wholly unique cooling and temperature control concept when compared to the conventionally-powered SUV. For instance, the regular Macan’s various combustion engines require a temperature window of 90 to 120 degrees Celsius, whereas the electrified version’s powertrain electronics and high-voltage battery need a temperature range between 20 and 70 degrees, says Porsche.
Unlike an internal combustion engine, that might experience higher temperatures amid stop-and-go rush hour traffic, battery-powered vehicles need optimal cooling when undergoing high-power charging in hot weather. Fortunately, Porsche engineers “precisely calculate and digitally optimize position, flow and temperature” via virtual prototypes.
Such virtual prototyping can be done early in the development stage, too. For example, Porsche has developed a totally new operating concept for the second-generation Macan, which includes a completely updated driver display. By using a “seat box” to simulate the driving environment, Porsche’s engineers were able to bring a digital prototype to life.
“Simulation allows us to assess displays, operating procedures and the changing influences during a journey from the driver’s point of view,” said Fabian Klausmann of the Driver Experience development department. “Here, the 'test drivers' are not just the specialists themselves but also non-experts. This allows all interaction between driver and vehicle to be studied down to the last detail, enabling selective optimization even before the first physical cockpit has been built.”
From knowledge gained through digital prototyping, the first physical Macan EV prototypes provided yet more data, which was fed back into the digital prototype after testing. Porsche engineers continued to update both digital and physical prototypes in order to refine every aspect of the driving experience, plus of course the Macan EV’s overall dependability and safety.
“Endurance testing on closed-off testing facilities and public roads in real-life conditions is still indispensable to ensure that the vehicle structure, operational stability and reliability of hardware, software and all functions meet our high-quality standards,” said Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board.
Porsche created a demanding test program for the new Macan EV, in which it endured climatic extremes as well as varying topographical conditions. This included the real-life charging and conditioning of the SUV’s high-voltage battery, with targeted results being everyday reliability along with class-leading performance.
“Like the Taycan, the all-electric Macan, with its 800-volt architecture, will offer typical Porsche E-Performance,” added Steiner, citing development goals like the model’s long-distance range, high-performance fast charging, and targeted best-in-class performance. “The all-electric Macan will be the sportiest model in its segment.”
The all-electric Macan needs to be as efficient as possible, so therefore will be the first Porsche to ride on the brand’s entirely new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture. Still, Porsche hasn’t forgotten that the bulk of the small SUV sales will continue being dominated by internal combustion engine power for the time being, particularly in markets where governmental regulations allow fossil fuel-burning vehicles to persist.
“In Europe, demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, but the pace of change varies considerably across the world,” continued Steiner. “That’s why we’re going to launch another attractive conventionally-powered successor to the current Macan in the course of 2021.”
Yes, later this year we’ll see a new second-generation Macan emerge, featuring a full assortment of gasoline-powered engines. The all-electric Macan will follow, albeit only after its digital and physical prototypes have racked up millions of test kilometres.
To learn more about the upcoming second-generation Macan, or alternatively to acquire a new 2021 version or a pre-owned example, be sure to contact Porsche Centre Vancouver at (604) 736-7911, or visit us in our dealership at 688 Terminal Ave, Vancouver.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Date Posted: May 2021