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).
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
“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
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.
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.
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
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
“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
“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
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.
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
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!