Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Porsche Panamera to get hybrid power

The world is whipping itself into a frenzy over the Porsche Panamera which is due to be released in 2009. The front-engined Panamera will be Porsche’s fourth model line (joining the 911, Boxster/Cayman and Cayenne).

Porsche Panamera

Billed by the media (and probably by Porsche itself) as Porsche’s first four door sedan, ignoring the fact that a four door 911 was built for the wife of the American Porsche distributor in the early 1970’s, if my memory serves me correctly, it will, however, be a milestone in Porsche history. That milestone being a complete range of different engines, not just developments of the one engine as was seen with the 911 T, E and S, for example.
The engines mooted for the Panamera are a V10, V8 and V6 from launch in 2009 – plus a hybrid later on. The V10 is expected to be the engine from the (now discontinued) Carrera GT, which produces 450 kW and will give the four-seater supercar levels of performance.
The other engines will be derived from the Porsche Cayenne SUV, being the 283 kW 4.8 liter V8 and the 213 kW 3.6 liter V6, plus a not yet released hybrid Cayenne V6 engine combined with a 34 kW electric motor driving through the normal six-speed Tiptronic transmission.


Porsche’s project manager for the Cayenne Hybrid, Dr Michael Leiters, believes the Panamera Hybrid will be the world’s fastest hybrid when it comes to market. Dr Leiters said that the ‘power-split’ hybrid systems used by other manufacturers are not suited to realizing high top speeds, but Porsche’s ‘parallel’ system – with the electric motor located between the petrol engine and the transmission – made it possible to provide the dynamic ability required by the Stuttgart company.
“You will have fun driving a Panamera hybrid,” he promised. “It will have 150 kg more weight, but there will be a special set-up for it and it will be very dynamic like any Porsche.”
The Panamera’s body will be produced at Volkswagen’s Hanover plant before being assembled in a new facility at Porsche’s Leipzig plant, where the Cayenne is also built.
With the Panamera expected to add about 20,000 sales a year globally on top of the Cayenne’s 35,000, the Leipzig plant will soon account for almost half of Porsche’s expected total of around 120,000 vehicles in 2009.
Porsche is targeting four-door luxury sports cars like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Maserati Quattroporte, as well as a new BMW set for release in 2010.
As I have pointed out in this column many times before, the hybrid concept was not a first for Japan, as Dr. Porsche was setting records in his hybrid Lohner-Porsche around 1902 which also featured four wheel drive in-hub motors. It was called a Porsche Mixte.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked which team was disqualified from the Monte Carlo Rally for having a non-standard headlamp dipping system? This was after they had won! The answer was the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally where the first four cars included three Mini Coopers and a Lotus Cortina and after a day of scrutineering they seized on the fact that the three British cars had quartz-iodine headlights, two for long distance and two for dip. The resultant scandal has never been forgotten, just as the French have apparently not forgotten their ignominious defeat at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
So to this week, and no history this time. The British Morris Cowley of 1915 could not really claim to be British at all. The engines, gearboxes, differentials and axles were all imported. From where?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


Detroit auto show heralds the death of the Big V8
At the Detroit Auto Show in January 2008, the death knell was sounded for the big American V8. Now too thirsty to be allowed to live in the (so-called) dwindling oil environment, both Ford and General Motors have reacted with plans to reduce America’s love affair with V8 engines.

Ford Flex

The automakers hands were partly forced by latest American CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Consumption) legislation on December 19, 2007 insisting on even tougher standards as far as fuel consumption was concerned. The V8 had to go.
Now personally, I am not convinced that the world’s supply of oil is about to dry up. I see no evidence of Exxon pulling up stakes, and my local Caltex station has just been refurbished. With crude oil knocking on $100 a barrel, why would they cease production? They can (and do) charge more for the final product, and even if the percentage profit is the same as before, that still translates into an increased gross profit. My stance in all this is that if you want to pay for a gas guzzler, then the choice is yours. George Dubbya can butt out!
However, the manufacturers are stuck with it, and last week GM announced that it had axed a new quad-cam V8 engine program and the proposed ‘Ultra V8’ replacement that was to have been produced from 2009 and has now been canned. Instead, Cadillacs will be powered by direct-injection 3.6 liter V6 engines producing similar power with better economy.
Ford has followed suit, outlining plans to replace V8s with new turbocharged four and six cylinder engines employing direct injection technology. Ford indicates it will downsize 500,000 vehicles a year with a range of ‘EcoBoost’ engines by 2013 – starting with the flagship Lincoln MKS all wheel drive sedan in 2009.
The Lincoln MKS will be powered by a 3.5 liter twin turbo developing around 255 kW of power and 462 Nm of torque, which the company says will give it the performance of a V8 with the fuel consumption of a V6.
Next up will be the all-new Ford Flex SUV, followed by the potential replacement for the big Explorer SUV which was shown at the Detroit motor show in concept form, that instead of a big V8, is fitted with a turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder engine.
Ford’s global product development chief, Derrick Kuzak, said that direct injection turbo petrol engines make more economic sense than hybrids or turbo-diesels, and are more appealing to consumers.
“EcoBoost is meaningful because it can be applied across a wide variety of engine types in a range of vehicles, from small cars to large trucks – and it’s affordable,” said Mr Kuzak.
“Compared with the current cost of diesel and hybrid technologies, customers in North America can expect to recoup their initial investment in a 4 cylinder EcoBoost engine through fuel savings in approximately 30 months. A diesel in North America will take an average of seven and a half years, while the cost of a hybrid will take nearly 12 years to recoup – given equivalent miles driven per year and fuel costs.
“We know that what will make the biggest difference is applying the right technology on volume vehicles that customers really want and value and can afford. EcoBoost puts an affordable technology within reach for millions of customers, and Ford’s systems approach adds up to a big idea that differentiates Ford’s sustainability strategy in the market.”
Despite all the corporate-speak, Kuzak admitted that Ford is still developing plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for use in the longer term, putting money on every horse in the race!

Ralf for the Dodgems?
Reports from Europe indicate that Ralf Schumacher is considering driving in the German Touring Car smash-up dodgems series, known as the DTM.

Get out of the way – Ralf’s coming!

Ralf, who is without a 2008 F1 race seat after parting from Toyota, tested a Mercedes C-Class DTM car at Estoril last month. However, Ralf has yet to decide whether or not he wants to race in the series this season.
“I don’t want to raise high hopes. He is testing and to date nothing else has been discussed,” Mercedes DTM boss Norbert Haug told Autosport.
“Should he be inspired by the tests and the same can be said about us, then it’s time to continue the discussions.”
Haug also denied that Mercedes are looking to Ralf in a bid to find a big name to replace Mika Hakkinen, who retired at the end of 2007. “The series is strong enough, we don’t need to hire people just for their names,” he said.
“I’ve known Ralf since he was in F3, and for many years he said he’d like to try the DTM. I said he should wait until his current contract situation allowed it and this is the first opportunity.”
If Mercedes boss Norbert has known Ralf since he was in F3, he should also know that Ralf is not Michael, and never has been. ‘Has been’ is the best description these days. Let us hope that the DTM doesn’t degenerate into a pasture for old racing drivers. However, perhaps I should apply myself!

Six Hour results
The inaugural Six Hour race at Bira circuit had 23 starters, and only a few non-finishers by the end of the evening. As a concept, the idea of endurance races is good for the sport, though the late publishing of the supplementary regulations meant that some overseas teams were unable to join. The restricting of drivers to only three per car also meant that many drivers were left on the sidelines, and the individual drivers in the teams had to spend more money to fund their drives.
The winner was Hatthai Chaiwan in a Mitsubishi Colt who covered 258 laps in the six hours. He was followed by Sunij Srisansuchart in a Toyota Vios, two laps in arrears, then Natharach Kittipong-pattana (Vios) another two laps down and then the Pizza Company team Yaris driven by Thomas Raldorf, Tony Percy and Urs Schoenenberger another lap behind.
There is talk of an endurance series for 2008, but to make this work the organizers will need to address the definite fixed dates situation, as overseas teams need to know well in advance.