Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


WHAT WITH THE modest odometer reading on my 2012 Honda Crosstour (not yet 25,000), I’m not quite in the market for a battery electric vehicle. On the other hand, a recent press release from Porsche coincides with my enthusiasm for GMax virtual vintage aeroplanes: “Prototypes of the All-Electric Macan,” the press release reads, “Both Digital and Real.” 

So, maybe, just maybe, could this be a virtual look at my next car?

The first physical prototypes of the all-electric Macan leave Porsche’s Weissach development center. This and other images from Porsche, May 10, 2021.

Porsche engineers note, “The all-electric Porsche Macan is ready to be tested on 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…. The prototypes are able to incorporate the experience gained from countless previous test kilometres – driven in a virtual space.”

Now we’re talking. I may be unready for reality, but virtual space is my thing. 

My recent GMax Antonov AN-2 Annushka explores Moscow.

Benefits of Virtual Space. Porsche says, “Digital development and testing not only saves time and costs, it also preserves resources, so it enhances sustainability.”

“Instead of real vehicles,” Porsche continues, “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 20 digital prototypes for the purpose of simulation in a number of development categories, such as aerodynamics, energy management, operation and acoustics.”

A First Study: Aerodynamics. Porsche notes, “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 Thomas Wiegand, director of aerodynamics development.” 

“Low aerodynamic drag is fundamental to the all-electric Macan with a view to ensuring a long range,” Porsche says. “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.”

BEV Thermal Considerations. An electric drive requires conceptual thinking that’s different from that of internal combustion: “While a temperature window of 90 to 120 degrees [Celsius; think 195–248 degrees Fahrenheit] is the target for combustion engines, the electric motor, powertrain electronics and high-voltage battery require a range between 20 and 70 degrees [68–158 degrees Fahrenheit], depending on the component.”

Unlike with internal combustion hardware, Porsche notes, “The critical scenarios don’t occur on the road, but during fast high-power charging at high outside temperatures.” 

These conditions are readily simulated with virtual prototypes. 

The Seat Box. Porsche describes development of a completely new interior for the Macan BEV: “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.”

A virtual interior of Porsche’s Macan BEV.

“Here,” Porsche says, “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 virtual seat box concept evolves into a hands-on prototype.

Production Plans. Porsche says, “The market launch of the all-electric Macan – the first Porsche to be built on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) – is planned for 2023.”

An instrumented Macan BEV performs at the Weissach test track.

Hmm… 2023. The timing’s about right; the Crosstour will be 11 years old. I wonder if the real Macan BEV would pass my Crosstour top-of-the-head test? ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021  

One comment on “A VIRTUAL PORSCHE

  1. Jack Albrecht
    May 15, 2021

    Ha. My BMW will be 10 in 2023. Although I may buy a used iX3 when they become available, I’ve decided not to take the massive hit on a new car like I’ve done with the last two (even though they are company cars). I want to wait a couple more years the charging tech and plugs mature a bit more.

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