Porsche’s 2014 Panamera S E-Hybrid-A Case For Electrification

by Lawrence Romanosky on March 28, 2014

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche introduced the Panamera S Hybrid in 2011 to good reviews and solid sales. This was a car that offered all of the Panamera virtues of space, elegance and vehicle dynamics, but with a level of efficiency uncharacteristic in a near-400hp drivetrain. For 2014 Porsche re-styled and substantially re-engineered the Panamera Hybrid, giving it much greater Electric range (E-Power) and Plug-In capability, sweetening the package considerably.

All 2014 Panameras feature new exterior bumper covers, sills and a rear hatch that has been subtly reworked with sharper character lines giving a more aggressive stance. Lighting front and rear was updated with new technology including optional full LED lighting. Also, a full surround camera system was added to the option list along with a photo-based Lane Departure Warning. Porsche developed a Mobile App for the E Hybrid that will remotely recall vehicle information such as battery charge level and range, lock or unlock the doors, and heat or cool the cabin. You can even set up a ‘Geofence’, whereby Porsche sends you a text message if your car winds up outside a predetermined area.

Mechanically, the car has received a substantial upgrade. The new Electric motor has twice the output of the earlier version, putting out 95hp vs. 47hp. The Nickel-Metal-Hydride Battery pack was swapped out for a Lithium-Ion pack with about five times the capacity (9.4kWh vs. 1.7kWh). Also a pressure point was added to the accelerator, mid-way through its travel, making it easy for drivers to keep the vehicle in electric-only mode. A Universal Charging station is included with the car which can be mounted on the wall of your garage, and wired for 240V, which will charge the battery in approximately 2.5hours. The compact Universal Charger can be taken with the car and the 240V Plug can be swapped out for a 110V, in which case charging will take approximately 8 hours. This means, for shorter commutes, the combustion engine need not ever be turned on.

The Panamera E Hybrid will easily keep up with traffic under E-Power and can reach a top speed of 135km/hr before the combustion engine kicks in. The E-Hybrid uses regenerative braking to supply power to the battery pack by converting the vehicles kinetic energy into electricity, which is then used to boost the power of the combustion engine to give 416 total system hp. By comparison, traditional friction brakes convert Kinetic energy into heat, which is dissipated into the atmosphere and wasted, not to mention using up brake pads and rotors. The integration of the regenerative braking with the hydraulic friction brakes is now better integrated for a more linear, natural brake feel under recharging conditions. The attentive driver can likely use the torque from the electric motor to slow the car more than 80% of the time, just using the friction brakes to roll to a stop and for emergencies.

A full charge will give electric-only range of 35km in ideal conditions, though very cold or hot weather can reduce this significantly. On a very cold winter’s day, with all the interior accessories on, a range of 15km may be more realistic. That said, gasoline engines do not get peak economy under these conditions either.

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Greater Efficiency Means Lower Running Costs

Whichever way you charge the car, at a typical household rate of $.08 per kWh, the cost will be under $1.00. Travelling 35km on gas power would use about 3.5L of fuel and cost between $4 and $5.00. In the least favourable conditions, charging the battery pack would still be less than half the cost of fuel for the combustion engine.

To put it in perspective, the average electrical usage of a Calgary resident is about 600 KwH per month, and at an average price of $.08 per KwH, that gives a monthly bill of about $50. Major appliances such as your fridge, stove, dishwasher and clothes dryer take up about 75% of this, with lighting and electronics accounting for most of the rest. If you gave your Panamera S E-Hybrid a full charge every night, you would be using an additional 300kWh per month and this would cost approximately $25. If you never plugged your Panamera S E-Hybrid in and used the car the same distance relying solely on the combustion engine, the fuel would cost about $75 or more, so plugging in your Hybrid will save about $50 per month.

A major reason that operating the vehicle on Plug-In E-Power is much less costly is that the Electric Motor is inherently much more efficient than the Thermal (Internal Combustion) engine. For every litre of gasoline burned by a combustion engine, about 70% is wasted, mostly to heat and noise which is dissipated into the atmosphere. By comparison about 90% of the power put into an electric motor will translate into propulsion – that is why they are quieter and don’t require complex cooling systems.

If there were an easy way to store and transport Electricity, the combustion engine would have likely become obsolete a long time ago. The weight and recharging time of batteries is what has held back the Electrification of vehicles for more than 100 years. The combustion engine, for all its inefficiency, relies on liquid fuel, which can be easily stored, and distributed. Significant advances in battery technology such as Lithium Ion technology, as well as the proliferation of high powered fast charging stations, have made E-Power vehicles much more viable.Irrespective of the Plug-In component, the Panamera’s Hybrid drivetrain is more efficient than the combustion engine of similar power, despite the greater weight of the battery pack. The 333hp supercharged 3.0L V6 engine uses less fuel than the twin turbo 420hp V6 in the Panamera S/4S or the naturally aspirated 4.8L V8 in the Panamera GTS. The power boosting possible with the electric motor and battery pack allow the vehicle to run with a less powerful more efficient engine, and work that engine less hard, than it would otherwise require to achieve performance targets.

So the Panamera E-Hybrid is probably 15%-20% more efficient in its Hybrid mode and three to four times more cost effective when using Plug-In E Power. A typical year with a Panamera E-Hybrid might consist of about 10,000km commuting under Plug In E Power, and 10,000km run in Hybrid drive on longer trips. Plug-In E Power would save about $600 per year, and the efficiency gains of the Hybrid powertrain would likely save another $200 per year – the $800 per year saving giving approximately an 8 year return on the $6,400 price premium over the Panamera S V8. Interestingly, these numbers work out to be quite similar when comparing our Cayenne V6 gas SUV to our Diesel variant – about an 8 year return on the roughly $4,000 price premium for the Diesel. These numbers do not take into consideration Government subsidies which can lower the purchase price of E-Hybrid thousands of dollars, depending on Province.

Panamera S E-Hybrid

It Is Still a Porsche 

Nobody is buying a Diesel or a Hybrid Porsche just to save money though; if dollars were the only consideration a person would wind up with a less expensive automobile. Also within the Porsche model selection, fuel saving is not the principal reason that buyers choose either of these two options. Diesel buyers, for instance like the low-end torque of the turbo-Diesel engine, along with the 30% increase in range, making the vehicle ideal for towing. With the Hybrid, our customers are interested in being early adopters of Green Technology, value the optics of driving a Hybrid, appreciate the efficiency, but most of all like the way the vehicle drives.

Driving using only the electric motors is almost completely silent and there is very little vibration, you only hear a distant ‘whirring’ from the motors and the tire noise which is very suppressed in a Panamera. Electric motors also provide their maximum torque at 0 rpm, meaning that the driver feels a very satisfying shove in the back from standstill. This silent, swift operation is quite pleasant, and when you drive a Panamera S E-Hybrid, one tends to focus on maximizing the E-Power range, and it comes as a disappointment to have the combustion engine, as nice as it is, fire up.

This brings up another facet to Hybrid efficiency; because the control interfaces encourage you to pay more attention your vehicles systems and conserve energy, you become a more conscientious ‘greener’ driver, and this can save more fuel than the technology packed into the vehicle!

The Panamera S E-Hybrid is not all about efficiency and quiet operation though, it is also a very serious performance machine. Given the opportunity, the driver can summon all of the 416hp and rocket 0-100km/hr in 5.2sec, and hit a top speed of 270 km/hr. The Panamera S E-Hybird has an athletic chassis, powerful brakes, and steering that telegraphs the road surface to keen drivers. The aerodynamic body, long wheelbase, and powerful drivetrain combine to make any Panamera a sublime device for fast transport across long distances. Even at the very high speeds possible on the German Autobahn, or the race track, the Panamera feels utterly and totally composed. This is part of Porsche DNA, and they haven’t abandoned it in the name of saving a bit of fuel; instead they have achieved both efficiency and performance in a harmonious package.

Lawrence Romanosky

Sales Manager

Porsche Centre Calgary

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