LA Auto Show: Porsche Improves Efficiency and Power

Porsche unveiled the 2012 911 and Panamera, both of which claim improved fuel efficiency and increased power. I’ve seen this emerging as a trend here at the LA Auto Show. It seems obvious that automakers would include efficiency improvements in a time when gas prices are solidly over $4.00/gallon in many parts of the country. The 911 is 16% more fuel efficient with 350hp (450 for the S), 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, and a top speed of 188mph. Which is completely necessary in rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, Porsche’s largest market. 50% of the 911’s they make are sold here in California.

I spoke with Thomas Becki, Porsches’ Head of Product and Technical Press about the electric Boxster concept I saw in this video at the e-mobility forum. I asked if they were going to join Tesla in making a purely electric sports car. He explained that the electric motor they used was from Volkswagen and modified by them, and that the car was built solely for the Stuttgart e-mobility project. Thomas went on to explain that Porsche has no intention of building a pure electric car, but that if batteries become light enough and practical for normal* use, they will be one of the first to adopt the electric motor. However, they do have successful hybrids in the Panamera and Cayenne. Becki said they’ve found it best to focus on 4-doors for their hybrids.

*normal use for a Porsche customer includes daily commuting and errands most likely done a bit faster than others, as well as occasional jaunts through the canyons and even on the race track. Porsche proudly proclaimed that many of their popular 911’s are still on the road today, which is sustainable in terms of materials used. However, I’m sure that 1970’s 911 my old boyfriend used to take us on spirited rides burn a lot more gas than the 30MPG. That’s Highway at about 70-80MPH average speed as Thomas specified. Clearly he forgot we don’t have Autobahns here and most LA Highways are actually parking lots.

Speaking of LA Highways, at the intersection of the 405 and the 110, Porsche is about to break ground on a 53 acre Porsche Experience facility. The facility will feature a variety of test tracks where any customer can walk in and work out their agressions in a Porsche after traveling at 9mph for the past 20 miles on one of the two most congested freeways in the country. People who don’t have their own Porsche can use one of the PEC’s. But what makes it interesting to me is that it will include a Human Performance Center where patrons can enjoy some of the same exercise regimens that racecar drivers enjoy. Their racer Patrick Long was on hand to present the new (and more efficient) Panamera. He explained to me that they do about 80% cardio, and strength training to help deal with g-forces. While the average commuter doesn’t need to fight 3g‘s on the way to work, fitness improves peace of mind, making it easier to handle the slow drive home.

Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.