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Porsche Board Approves Hybrid Electric Spyder

Geneva 918 concept to become plug-in battery powered reality.

by on Jul.28, 2010

The Germans who originally scoffed at Toyota's hybrids are now copying the technology.

The Supervisory Board of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, today approved the development of the Porsche 918 Spyder.

The concept version of a Boxster based mid-engine sports car with plug-in hybrid technology made its debut at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show and at Auto China in Beijing earlier this year.

Porsche is claiming that the 918 Spyder will produce CO2 emissions of 70 g/km, corresponding to fuel consumption of 3.0 liter/100 km (94.1 mpg imp) in the New European Driving Cycle.

Porsche is also claiming the Spyder will have the performance of a high performance sports car, which is a return to its heritage even though Porsche now sells more trucks and sedans than sports cars.

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Defining “Porsche” has provoked quite a debate about the Southern German automaker, which made its name with small, fuel-efficient, extremely capable variants of Volkswagens, but has recently thrived as the maker of four-door sedans and sport utility vehicles.

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Porsche Working on Electric Boxsters?

Pure EVs under study as CO2 regulations and stiff fines for gas guzzlers loom large in a government-influenced marketplace.

by on Jul.26, 2010

Three Boxsters are due to test new electric drive components and battery systems for a proposed all-electric Porsche sportscar.

Porsche AG is about to start testing Boxster models equipped with an all-electric powertrain, which could eventually supplement its hybrid models that are currently starting production.

The newly confirmed program is part of the Stuttgart Model Region for Electromobility initiative, which is being advocated by a local German government.

“We will definitely be offering an electric sports car in future. But such a concept only makes sense if it offers product qualities typical of a Porsche,” said Michael Macht, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Porsche AG.

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Defining “Porsche” has provoked quite a debate about the Southern German automaker, which made its name with small, fuel-efficient, but extremely capable variants of Volkswagens, but has since thrived as the maker of four-door sedans and sport utility vehicles.

(more…)

First Look: Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Most powerful Porsche ever - image booster or the opposite?

by on May.13, 2010

The ultimate 911 accelerates from 0-60 in 3.4 seconds, has a top speed of 205 mph and laps the Nürburgring-Nordschleife track in 7:18.

The latest Porsche 911 model is without question the fastest and most powerful road-going sports car ever built in the history of the fabled German marque.

With horsepower increased by 90 and weight reduced 154 pounds (70 Kg) compared with the old 911 GT2 (last sold in the U.S. during the 2009 model year), the new GT2 RS has a power-to-weight ratio of 4.9 pounds per horsepower, the best ratio in its class.

While these numbers can be respected for what is a rare and ultra-high-performance sports car, taken in the larger context of U.S. energy independence, national security from terrorist-supporting oil nations, greenhouse gases and the latest ecological disaster – the BP oil spill/fish kill – they could be viewed differently. (Porsche Power Shift as Qatar Sheikh Joins Board and Hans-Peter Porsche Retires!)

Lightweight bucket seats of carbon-fiber plastic are standard, as are lightweight door panels with straps instead of handles.

Porsche is tacitly acknowledging the potential marketing problem it faces by touting the 2011 GT2 RS achieves a reduction of approximately 5% for both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions based on the European test cycle when compared with the previous GT2. It is engineering at its best. The question remains as to whether such a car is a positive or negative in image terms?

Moreover, insiders say the rating of the existing GT3 as a gas guzzler – currently Porsche’s only guzzler model on sale in the U.S. – was not part of the plan and is a cause for concern since the U.S. is still Porsche’s largest market, even at its now depressed levels. EPA ratings for the GT3 are 14 mpg city and 21 highway, very good given the performance involved, but perhaps approaching the lower end of the socially acceptable scale.

Porsche executives are hoping that the revised 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer engine in the new GT2 RS will not be rated as a guzzler. Only time will tell, since the car does not go on sale until this October so it is not rated yet. And they were taken by surprise when the GT3 was dubbed a guzzler.

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Porsche Adds V6 Engines to Panamera Sedans

Forced by fuel economy regulations to become more efficient.

by on Feb.18, 2010

Down-sized engines for an upsized Porsche.

Porsche Cars North America is adding two V6 models to its Panamera sedan line. The cars will debut globally at the Beijing Motor Show in April, and arrive at U.S. dealers this June.

The so-called entry-level sedans, Panamera and Panamera 4, are priced at $74,400 and $78,900, respectively. Porsche released no projected fuel economy figures.

It did boast, though, that these cars would be more fuel-efficient than the hyper-powered V8 models, the Panamera S, the Panamera 4S and the Panamera Turbo – 400 to 500 horsepower sports sedans,  rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 16 city and 24 highway; the turbo is 15/23.

A new Porsche V6 – and let me stress new as this is not the current Cayenne V6 -  should easily be able to best this number, even though the weight of the four- door sedan will be an efficiency issue.

Porsche life is luxurious - V6 or V8 power.

Such  fuel economy and relatively high CO2 emissions levels are largely, if not entirely irrelevant, of course, to buyers of high-powered German cars; and German makers have a long history of paying the fines incurred  – passed on to buyers –  when they violated U.S. fuel economy regulations. They all have done it for decades, while Congress looked the other way.

However, this loophole is currently under scrutiny by industry critics and pressure groups, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency work out final fuel economy rules – and the methodology used to calculate them – which will lead to a 35.5 mile per gallon average in 2016. Passenger cars will need to average 42 mpg under the proposed rules. (To say that the auto company lobbyists are working this hard behind the scenes in pay-for-play Washington, DC, is an understatement.)

Porsche says that no Panamera sedan will be subject to a gas-guzzler tax.  And we have no reason to doubt the storied engineering firm. Official U.S. EPA fuel economy figures will be announced closer to the on-sale date. Panamera will have the stop/start mode that the V8 models have, which shuts the engine off at idle, thereby increasing efficiency. Aside from Japanese hybrids,  I think this is the only application of this advanced, fuel saving technology on the U.S. market.

The four-door Panamera was the real news last fall at the Frankfurt Auto Show when it debuted. (Click here for that story.)  Panamera remains a real product bet in the depressed global economy. The car represents Porsche’s much debated, much delayed, fourth model line. A four-door was under consideration at Porsche more than two decades ago, but the conservative German maker eschewed a saloon and ultimately gambled on what became a successful investment in a truck – the Cayenne sport utility vehicle.

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Winterkorn, Pötsch Join Board of Porsche SE Today

VW tightens control as Porsche posts first loss in 14 years.

by on Nov.25, 2009

Still the family jewels after all thee years, or should we say now VW's jewels?

Still the family jewels since 1964, or should we say the 911 range is now VW's jewels?

Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, and Hans Dieter Pötsch, Member of the Board responsible for “Finance and Controlling,” join the Board of Management of Porsche Automobil Holding SE today.

The appointments came as Porsche presented its results for the business year 2008/09, covering operations from August 1, 2008 to July 31, 2009.

During that period, Porsche SE lost (-€4.4) billion before taxes. Net loss was (-€2.52) billion for the 12 months. The loss was Porsche’s first annual deficit since 1994.

The latest moves are part of VW’s ongoing integration of Porsche into its business, after the smaller company failed to gain control of VW with borrowed money during a contentious multi-year takeover bid, which failed earlier this year when Porsche debt reached an unsustainable €10 billion.

The next step in VW’s acquisition is 49.9% ownership by Volkswagen in Porsche AG, which is planned for the end of 2009 at a price of €3.9 billion.

There is also an “Extraordinary General Meeting” of VW AG on December 3, 2009, where VW has proposed a large, some say breathtaking, authorization of up to 135 million shares of preferred stock to finance the balance of the Porsche takeover.

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The Porsche loss was largely the result of writing down the value of options on VW shares acquired during the aborted takeover bid. The previous year’s total was + €8.6 billion, according to Pötsch. Next year could also see a loss he said.

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VW Moves Ahead on Porsche and Karmann Buys

Contracts prepared, final approval expected shortly.

by on Nov.20, 2009

Victor and vanquished.  Ferdinand Porsche, (left) Chairman of the company bearing his family name, meets with Ferdinand Piech, Chairman of Volkswagen.  The larger maker beat back a takeover bid by Porsche and will now "merge" with the sports car maker - on its terms - in 2011.

Wolfgang Porsche, (l) Chairman of the sports car maker, with Ferdinand Piech, Chairman of VW. The larger maker beat a takeover bid by Porsche and will own it all by 2011.

At a meeting earlier today in Germany, the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft approved the acquisition of land and machinery formerly belonging to the bankrupt Karmann holding company at the Osnabrück site. Karmann has a long history of building products based on VW products, the most famous of which is the Karmann Ghia sports car.

VW plans on establishing a new car-manufacturing subsidiary and will begin vehicle production in Osnabrück in 2011. VW says this will create more than 1,000 jobs by 2014. Some 200 technicians will be employed starting next year to set up the vehicle project.

In a statement VW said, “employees and former employees of Karmann have extensive experience in the production of small series models, and this experience will be accessed in line with requirements.”

Volkswagen will hold final negotiations with the shareholders of the Karmann and the bankruptcy administrator on the basis of today’s board decision.

The board also approved contracts for its takeover of Porsche in a series of steps. Porsche’s controlling shareholders, the Porsche and Piëch families need to sign the papers, but for all practical purposes the battle for the ownership is now over, with VW winning. VW said last month that it will pay €3.9 billion (~$5.8 billion) for a 49.9% stake in the Porsche by year end. It will takeover the rest of the famed sports car maker by 2011.