Courtesy of the Porsche Newsroom US 

The all-electric Macan is ready for the road: after initial testing on the proving grounds of the Porsche Development Centre in Weissach, the well-camouflaged next-generation prototypes of the compact SUV are now heading outside Porsche premises for the first time.

Digital development and testing not only saves time and costs, it also preserves resources, so it enhances sustainability. Instead of real vehicles, the engineers use digital prototypes –- computational models that replicate the properties, systems and power units of a vehicle to a high degree of accuracy. There are twenty digital prototypes for the purpose of simulation in a number of development categories, such as aerodynamics, energy management, operation and acoustics.

The aerodynamics specialists are among the first engineers to work with a digital prototype. “We started with a flow-around model when the project first started about four years ago,” reports Dr Thomas Wiegand, Director of aerodynamics development. Low aerodynamic drag is fundamental to the all-electric Macan with a view to ensuring a long range. Even minor flow enhancements can make a huge difference. The engineers are currently using simulations to fine-tune details such as the cooling air ducts. The calculations not only take into account different arrangements of the components, they also reflect real-life temperature differences.

New methods now allow very precise simulation of both aerodynamics and thermodynamics. “The digital world is indispensable to the development of the all-electric Macan,” says aerodynamics expert Wiegand. The electric drive system –- from the battery through to the motor –- requires a completely separate cooling and temperature control concept, one that is very different from that of a conventionally powered vehicle. While a temperature window of ninety to one hundred and twenty degrees is the target for combustion engines, the electric motor, powertrain electronics and high-voltage battery require a range of between twenty and seventy degrees, depending on the component. The critical scenarios don’t occur on the road but during fast high power charging at high outside temperatures. However, the Porsche developers are able to precisely calculate and digitally optimise position, flow and temperature.

Virtual prototypes can be combined with real-world scenarios at an early stage. The best example here is the development of a completely new display and operating concept for the next generation of Macan. Using what is known as a seat box to recreate the driver’s environment, the display and operating concept can be brought to life in an early development phase in conjunction with the digital prototype. “Simulation allows us to assess displays, operating procedures and the changing influences during a journey from the driver’s point of view,” explains 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.

The market launch of the all-electric Macan – the first Porsche to be built on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) –- is planned for 2023. Porsche is positioning itself flexibly for the transition to pure electromobility.