Electrifying Porsche’s Best-Seller
Since its introduction in 2013, the Porsche Macan has been a huge sales success, and is now the brand’s best-selling model. Consumers around the world love its combination of distinctive looks, superb handling, Porsche performance, and surprising versatility. Until now, the Macan has offered a wide range of internal-combustion engine choices to suit every need. But the next generation Macan, due to be shown in the second half of 2023, will be fully-electric.
While the full production version of the new Macan EV hasn’t been shown to the world yet, Porsche has provided us with a behind-the-scenes look at the development process of the new Macan. It will by be by far the brand’s most important electric car, and should sell in much larger volumes than the Taycan sports sedan.
Rigorous Testing Around the World
Real-life testing of the Macan prototypes is now underway around the world. By the time the all-electric Macan is launched in late 2023, Porsche says it will have covered some three million kilometers (or 1.86 million miles) of real-world testing in various conditions. This is on top of millions of miles done virtually using digital simulations.
The demanding test program for the all-electric Macan is being carried out in multiple countries and in the extremes of climate and topographical conditions. Winter testing happens in Scandinavia on ice roads and frozen lakes, and where vehicles are left outside to freeze in sub-zero temperatures overnight. Hot-weather testing takes place in Africa and around Death Valley in the U.S.
A major priority of the testing regime is charging and conditioning the new Macan’s high-voltage battery, which has to meet very rigorous standards. Like the Taycan, Porsche’s first all-electric car, the electric Macan will feature an 800-volt electrical architecture, which promises faster charging times and lower weight. Porsche wants to ensure that its new EV offers the promised range, charging speeds, and best-in-class performance it will promise at launch.
Findings from the extensive road testing around the world are indispensable to ensure that the vehicle’s structure, the operation of its systems, and the reliability of its hardware and software meet Porsche’s quality standards. Learnings are fed into an innovative digital development system that is racking up miles on the computer as fast as drivers are racking them up in the real world.
Digital Development and Testing
Porsche says that digital development and testing isn’t just helping them develop the new electric Macan faster; it also preserves resources and enhances sustainability.
Porsche has built fully digital prototypes of the new Macan – computational models that replicate the properties, systems and power units to a high degree of accuracy. 20 such prototypes exist on computers at the company’s Weissach development center, and are constantly being “driven” to collect data on aerodynamics, energy management, operation, and acoustics. The data from the various departments is collected and then used to further enhance the virtual vehicles, helping them be as detailed as possible. The process allows previously-undiscovered design conflicts to be swiftly identified and resolved.
The digital prototypes have been especially useful for engineers working on the new Macan’s aerodynamics. Indeed, aero specialists were among the first Porsche engineers to work with a digital prototype, starting with a flow-around model four years ago. Low aerodynamic drag is fundamental to giving the all-electric Macan a decent range, and even minor flow enhancements can make a huge difference. Aerodynamics engineers have used simulations to fine-tune details like the cooling air ducts and the arrangement of specific components.
Digital prototypes are also helping to perfect the Macan’s all-new electric drive system. Its battery and motor require a very different temperature and cooling control concept – very different from a gasoline-powered vehicle.
While gasoline vehicles are happiest at between 90 and 120 degrees Celsius, electric powertrain components want to be between 20 and 70 degrees. Using fast charging stations at high outside temperatures requires the Macan to cool down its electrical system to maintain optimum charging performance. Using digital simulation, Porsche developers are able to precisely calculate and optimize position, flow and temperature.
The digital models of the new Macan are so complete that they extend to replicating what’s on all of the electric car’s dashboard displays. This means that the engineers and designers tasked with optimizing the new Porsche’s display and operating systems can also drive the car in the virtual world.
Using a “seat box” to recreate the driver’s environment, the vehicle’s displays were brought to life early in the development of the new Macan. The engineers were able to assess displays, operating procedures and the changing influences during a journey from the driver’s point of view. The team even brought in “regular” test drivers to help further optimize the controls – before the first physical model of the interior was ever built.
Late 2023 Launch
Porsche expects that the all-electric Macan to be on sale by the end of 2023. The first of many Porsche models to be built on its “PPE” (for Premium Platform Electric), it will go on sale alongside the current combustion-engine Macan in many markets. Porsche says the pace of change to pure electric driving will be different in every market, and is hedging its bets. But by 2025, Porsche anticipates half of the vehicles it sells globally will have electric drivetrains.