The prototypes are able to incorporate the experience gained from countless previous test kilometres – driven in a virtual space.
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 20 digital prototypes for the purpose of simulation in a number of development categories, such as aerodynamics, energy management, operation and acoustics.
Porsche manager for digital prototypes at Porsche Dr Andreas Huber said the company regularly collate the data from the various departments and use it to build up a complete, virtual vehicle that is as detailed as possible.
This allows previously undiscovered design conflicts to be swiftly identified and resolved.
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,” said 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.
While a temperature window of 90 to 120 degrees is the target for combustion engines, the electric motor, powertrain electronics and high-voltage battery require a range of between 20 and 70 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.
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.
Virtual prototypes can be combined with real-world scenarios at an early stage.
“Simulation allows us to assess displays, operating procedures and the changing influences during a journey from the driver’s point of view,” said 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 optimisation even before the first physical cockpit has been built.
The physical prototypes are regularly adapted based on the virtual refinement process.
By the same token, the findings from road testing are fed directly into digital development.
For this purpose, the vehicles are equipped with extensive measurement technology.
Like the Taycan, the all-electric Macan, with its 800-volt architecture, will offer typical Porsche E-Performance.
“The all-electric Macan will be the sportiest model in its segment,” said Michael Steiner who is Porsche Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development.