Select Page
Sustainable Porsche 911 Turbo S launched in Stuttgart

Sustainable Porsche 911 Turbo S launched in Stuttgart

Porsche has just launched the new 992 Turbo S in a livestream from Youtube. The presentation was hosted by Mark Webber, with appearances by Oliver Blume and Frank Walliser, who last year moved from the racing department to head Porsche’s 911 and 718 product lines. Comparatively little was said about the new model: much more was made of Porsche’s environmental goals.

On stage with Webber were two 992 Turbo S Coupes in Silver and Dark Metallic Blue and a Turbo S Cabriolet in white with red leather: a hand-stitched extended leather package. Walliser described the trim as catering for traditionalists, being reminiscent of the cabin in the original 1974 911 Turbo (the 930). It’s maybe a bit more along the lines of later Special Wishes models from the 1980s, including the Turbo SE.

“Passion, performance, pure emotion: that is what Porsche stands for,” said Webber. “The blueprint for all Porsche design is the 911: the world’s most recognisable sports car. Today, the flagship of that line takes centre stage.”

If you like a bit of Phil Collins, you were in luck, as “In the Air Tonight” provided the soundtrack for a montage of launch clips filmed on a dusty desert island showing an eagle, a wind tunnel and the Turbo S in motion.

“The Turbo S is elegant, efficient, powerful and, above all, it’s completely cool,” is how Porsche CEO, Oliver Blume, summed up the Turbo S essence. “The new car has 650ps, that is 70ps more than the previous generation. It sprints from 0-100 km/h in only 2.7 seconds and has a top speed of 330 km/h (205 mph).

“The first 911 Turbo was a real sensation in the 1970s and each new generation takes it one step further. We make it sharper in design, faster and more efficient. The Turbo is part of our DNA: it embodies the core brand values of Porsche: dynamics, power output and speed. And it is a real all-rounder, perfectly balancing speed and everyday usability.”

Porsche 911 Turbo: S for Sustainability

It was inevitable that at some stage the boss would bolt for the pass, to head off critics of the Turbo S’s profile as the historic embodiment of profligate excess versus Porsche’s environmental strategies with the all-electric Taycan, but it was still was a surprise to hear the CEO suggesting that the Turbo S was sustainable. Turbo S is the flagship of a highly priviled luxury product line, and sustainability is not very high on the list for most buyers. If buyers were serious about personal sustainability goals, they would hardly be spending £160,000 on a 700+ horsepower performance car.

“The Turbo S product strategy matches our brand profile and core competencies. It is sporty, flexible and sustainable. Therefore we focus on emotive combustion engines, dynamic plug-in hybrids and innovative electric sports cars.

“With electric cars and hybrids, we avoid local emissions. Their share of market will continue to grow. By 2025, half of all new Porsches will be electrified. At the same time, we are optimising our petrol engines. With each new generation, they are becoming more efficient. This also applies to sports cars, such as the Turbo S.

“Last year, we launched the Taycan: our first fully electric sports car. In doing so, we took a big step towards our sustainability goals. Sustainability today represents an important purchase reason: one that is just as important as a brand, the product and the design. That is what our customers see as value added.

“Sustainability is therefore an important pillar in our strategy. The Taycan is a successful example: driving with zero local emissions in an all-electric sports car. The production is zero-emissions at our new Taycan factory. But not only there: in the past five years, we have reduced CO2 emissions at all Porsche production facilities by an impressive 75% per car. We also set our clear sustainability guidelines for our suppliers.

“So ladies and gentlemen, Porsche is taking responsibility for society and the environment. At the same time, we are driving dreams from the racetrack to the road. This is what Porsche makes unique and also, a really cool brand.”

You have to take your hat off to anyone who can stand in front of half a million quid’s worth of wide-arched toys for the wealthy and give a speech about sustainability. That said, this was a much safer strategy than simply unveiling the trio without an accompanying corporate environmental presentation. Yes, the Turbo S is a usable everyday supercar – perhaps the perfect example of such – but how many buyers will take it over a zero-guilt, Taycan with similar oomph and bombproof residual values? Can the 911 Turbo S survive in the drive towards electric?

Porsche 911 Turbo S: survival in the age of electric

The Porsche 911 Turbo S is undeniably a bastion of excess, but excess is appealing to a shrinking number of western buyers. This is even more true as the stunning 0-60 performance, which has traditionally been the sole preserve and main attraction of turbocharged 911s, is laid waste by the instantaneous torque of electric motors. No doubt the Porsche 992 Turbo S is another great flagship, but how long more will this flagship exist?

Perhaps some will claim that we have just watched the launch of the last great Turbo, but I doubt it. The one thing that all Porsche Turbo S models have shared through the years is distinct self-effacement: an understated, restrained facade that is never brash or trying too hard, like a Lamborghini or modern-day Aston. It simply turns up with a minimum of fuss and does the job reliably, time after time. If a 911 Turbo S has one truly sustainable quality with enduring appeal, that is the one.


Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:

Porsche Taycan delivery delays

Porsche Taycan delivery delays

After weeks of unmissable promotion surrounding the new Porsche Taycan at the end of 2019, the buzz around Porsche’s first full-electric vehicle seems to have gone a bit quiet. This may be somewhat appropriate for an EV but other factors are also at play.

I recently caught up with a friend who told me about delayed delivery of a large order of Porsche Taycans for a project he is involved with and it seems the delays have been well known for months. InsideEV ran a story on delayed Porsche Taycan deliveries in November 2019, sharing a Porsche email advising customers of an eight- to ten-week delay in delivery.

Taycan is our first fully electric sports car. The car is developed from scratch and manufactured in a brand new factory. All Porsche employees have worked with full pressure to start delivering Taycan as scheduled in January. Still, as a result of the enormous complexity surrounding the production of Taycan, we must report that unfortunately the delivery dates are somewhat delayed.

We currently expect delays of around eight to ten weeks, and a new production time for your car will be communicated through your seller as soon as this is ready. We strongly apologise and guarantee that we will do everything we can to deliver your Porsche Taycan as soon as possible.”

Delayed gratification is not part of the plan for those paying upwards of £83,000 (basic Taycan 4S RRP) for their new electric sports car. I don’t know how many Taycan orders Porsche has received, but I’ve spoken to lots of people – everything from builders to opticians (and not all Porsche enthusiasts) – who have one on order.

Corporation and Company Car Tax: EV exemptions

Full order books are not much of a surprise, given that UK corporation tax allows 100% of the list price of a full EV to be written off in the first twelve months and depreciation (if there is any such thing on a Taycan) will certainly be lower than the tax that would otherwise be payable on that money. Tax changes which come into effect in 2020/2021 will help to further reduce company car tax bills as zero emission, 100% electric cars will pay no company car tax in 2020/21, 1% in 2021/22 and 2% in 2022/23.

As the UK tax year runs until early April, corporate buyers may be content to wait for the new plate and the fine weather for their Taycans, but shiny happy people in the permasun regions might feel a bit different.

Taycan is Top Gear Car of the Year

Amongst the plaudits for Porsche Taycan towards the end of last year was the Car of the Year crown from BBC Top Gear. “It takes all of about three minutes driving a Taycan to realise that Porsche has permanently altered what people who love conventional cars will think of electric cars,” said the Top Gear editors.

“It hints at what will be possible with an electric platform in the future. Lower emissions, yes, but also a world of speed and capability that might make those who have hollered for the death of the internal combustion engine wonder if they’ve actually opened a Pandora’s box of raw speed.”

EVs are certainly changing the game on a daily basis and the torque from a standstill is jaw-dropping, but Car of the Year on such a low volume machine for the privileged few (builders and opticians included) is a bit of a head scratcher. Then again, Top Gear has probably never been regarded as a consumer motoring thought leader. What Car? magazine gave its overall Car of the Year award to the brand new Ford Puma, which makes a bit more sense.


Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:

Lotus Engineering: The Revival

Lotus Engineering: The Revival

The DriveNation Instagram feed recently ran an enjoyable bit about the revival of Lotus Engineering, saying “Once clients came from around the world for that Lotus magic but, in recent years, the department dwindled down to almost nothing.”

A couple of days later, I swapped some emails with Lotus Engineering’s new Commercial Director, Dan Burge. It was an unconnected fluke: I was chasing a Honda CR-V for sale that turned out to be owned by Dan’s parents. Formerly of Prodrive and Williams Advanced Engineering, Dan has been criss-crossing the world since joining Lotus last month. Our brief encounter inspired some research on the story of Lotus Engineering.

Lotus Engineering Limited

Anyone with an interest in cars knows something of Lotus. Founded as a sports car manufacturer in the late 1940s, its early cars were built in a pub car park, but they were still beautiful. One of my first jobs when I immigrated to London was working with Rover dealer, Peter Walker. Peter raced some famous Lotus 15s and seeing how they were revered in his household was an education in what Lotus means to the English.

Until the Elise was revealed, the motor trade regarded Lotus road cars as per the acronym: Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious. The parent company’s history has also been pretty up and down. Founded by Colin Chapman and Colin Dare in 1952, Lotus started as Lotus Engineering. Team Lotus was formed in 1954 and raced in Formula 1 from 1958 to 1994. Lotus Cars was split off from its engineering parent in 1959.

Lotus Engineering Ltd was incorporated in 1980. Companies House shows three current officers: company secretary, Dr James Bradley, was appointed in April 2018, while directors Daniel Donghui Lui and Feng Qingfeng (CFO and CTO of Geely Auto Group) were appointed in September 2017. Corporate filing history for the business goes back to the mid 1980s and tells an interesting story, if you like looking at figures.

Embodying a British zeitgeist from the 1950s through the 1970s, by 1980 Group Lotus was struggling. Recession hit the company hard and annual production sank below 400 cars. However, Chapman had amassed vast brand value as an engineer and in 1982, Toyota engaged Lotus to help develop its chassis technology. In return, Lotus got Toyota components for the new Excel.

DeLorean and the death of Chapman

Things were looking up for Lotus when Chapman died suddenly in December 1982. A deal to develop the DeLorean’s chassis unravelled into chaos (along with DeLorean) soon after and the British tax authorities ring-fenced £84 million of Lotus assets: a sum of money it claimed had gone missing from government subsidies paid to DeLorean.

Mike Lawrence’s warts-and-all Chapman biography puts the total at more like £10 million, but does not gloss over the alleged deception: something Chapman supposedly could have got ten years in prison for had he not passed away. Adrian Newey’s autobiography mentions 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti’s belief that Chapman faked his own death on the basis of the scandal, but that’s a whole other story.

Back to Lotus Engineering Limited. The media release for the reborn consultancy mentions the Corvette ZR-1 LT5 (1990) and Aston Martin DB7 as part of the brand’s heritage (1994), but Companies House shows that Lotus Engineering Limited submitted accounts as a dormant company from at least 1984 to the end of 1997, until it once again began trading.

Lotus Engineering and the General Motors umbrella

Lotus was owned by General Motors from 1986 to 1993, making the Corvette link obvious. Aston was part of Ford from 1988 to 2007, so helping to repackage the Jaguar XJS as the DB7 was a little more complicated.

The MR2 (1984) exploited an existing connection between the two firms, which continued through the use of Toyota engines in the Lotus Elise (1996). Other well known projects by Lotus Engineering projects included the updated Isuzu Piazza (1987), which came as part of GM’s tie up with Isuzu that had started in 1971.

The aforementioned Volvo 480 (1985) was a low-key Lotus Engineering project that did not come from under the GM umbrella. I worked in a few Volvo dealerships at the end of the 1980s and remember the typical client as neither youthful nor sporty. The 480 Coupe with “handling by Lotus” and an uninspiring 1.7-litre Renault engine tuned by Porsche was an attempt to inject some new blood into the showrooms, but I remember only older ladies with big fluffy dogs driving 480s from new. The model was axed in 1997 and is a rare sight on UK roads nowadays.

Lotus, Bugatti and Proton

Romano Artioli bought Lotus in 1993 and ran it alongside ownership of Bugatti until his bankruptcy in 1996 (the Lotus Elise was named after his granddaughter). In 1996, Artiolo sold Lotus to Proton Cars of Malaysia to help pay off some debt.

Proton started filing accounts for Lotus Engineering Limited in 1998: the first accounts in more than a decade. 1997-98 showed profits of £1.3 million on turnover of £6.1 million, with £1.4 million on £7.2 million turnover the following year and £947,000 on £9.1 million the year after that.

In 2001, eight directors resigned and the company reported a profit of £2.7 million on turnover of £14.8 million. Profit went to £2.5 million and then £4.2 million on turnover of £21.6 million (01-02) and £24.6 million (02-03) respectively. Zero to £25 million turnover for an engineering consultancy in six years of accounts is quite interesting.

After that, things began to tail off. The following year, Lotus Engineering Ltd paid a dividend of £13 million, declaring profits of £358,000 on a turnover of just £1 million. Income from asset investments brought in £2.9 million in 2004/5, but actual turnover fell to £183,000. Income dwindled further through 2005 and subsequent years show the company as a non-trading subsidiary of Lotus Cars Limited.

Dany Bahar arrives

The controversial Lotus CEO, Dany Bahar, is listed as a director between November 2009 and June 2012. After he goes, the 2012-2013 accounts state that the company is regarded as a going concern. A payment of £4.1 million owed by Lotus Cars appears on the balance sheet, underwritten by Proton’s parent. These accounts are repeated annually until 2017, when the company once again changes hands.

China’s Geely Group acquired its majority stake in Proton in 2017 and things start developing. The accounts now show Geely as underwriting the £4.1 million and new articles of association regarding conflicts of interest are filed. Accounts submitting covering the period to the end of December 2018 show that the company remains dormant, but the hiring cycles through 2019 suggest that fresh accounts are imminent.

Lotus Engineering: the origin story

Origin stories are perhaps the most powerful tools in marketing. Shaping an origin story capable of triggering the right audience is a surefire route to powerful associations in the minds of buyers. Those instant clicks create strong brand allegiances that do not require substantial marketing investment. Less of the hard sell saves time and money.

There are more big advantages to running an engineering and design consultancy as a side arm of a somewhat anonymous parent. UK buyers would definitely not take to a Geely Elise: Lotus is the trigger in that proposal.

While Lotus has confirmed its future as a purely electric sports and hypercar manufacturer (such as the remarkable Evija seen here), the relaunch of its engineering subsidiary, whether to cross-kudos other Geely products – a Volvo roadster for example – or a more workaday executive with handling by Lotus, will keep the engineering side ticking over until the globetrotting commercial people get a foothold.

Lotus Cars: UK and China

Although many future Lotus cars will be manufactured in China, there are obvious marketing upsides to maintaining the engineering base at Hethel, as well as a new office near me in Warwick. There will also be financial upsides to the continued presence in the UK: Government subsidies for electric car development, for example. Alongside chassis tuning of future collaborations, we may well see Lotus-branded drivetrains in sporty derivatives from less evocative mass manufacturers. Lotus has powertrain history, with GM’s Corvette and EcoTec engines.

However the story unfolds, the continued presence of a Lotus subsidiary at the cutting edge of automotive engineering is essential to the brand’s future. Maintaining the brand’s connections to the iconic image of Chapman standing in the pits is a hardwired connection to the hearts and minds of British car buyers and what sells well to the UK cognoscenti is usually a success elsewhere.

The comment below from one forum post on the subject of Chapman’s legacy demonstrates just how deep the British love of Lotus runs: something that has not faded since his death almost forty years ago.

Chapman’s early business life is similar to Bernie Ecclestone’s, selling cars in post WW2 Warren street and the rather sharp ethics seem to have the same air about them. I believe myself that his early passing was simply the result of not sleeping for the best part of thirty years and using pills to stay awake: the body can only take so much. Nevertheless, I find Chapman the most fascinating individual in motor racing, and that is saying something in a sport that has attracted some pretty outlandish people over the decades.

Given the emotional attachment of British enthusiasts to the entire Lotus myth, the revival of the engineering brand that underpins the entire origin story of Lotus Cars under the umbrella of an automotive group that is currently winning all the sports has a strong chance of engagement. While the true Chapman story may fall some way short of the legend, his maverick appeal endures.


Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:

New EV Rapid Charging Technology: 300 miles in ten minutes

New EV Rapid Charging Technology: 300 miles in ten minutes

I recently read an interesting article in a Fast Company newsletter, sharing how engineers at Penn State University have come up with a new technique to dramatically increase the charge rate of electric vehicle batteries.

“We demonstrated that we can sufficiently charge an electrical vehicle in ten minutes to give a range of two to three hundred miles,” said Chao-Yang Wang, project lead and director of the Electrochemical Engine Centre at Penn State University. “We can do this maintaining 2,500 charging cycles, or the equivalent of half a million miles of travel.”

The new technique centres on heat. Up to now, charging rates have been limited due to degradation in lithium-ion batteries when charged at normal ambient temperatures. The research showed that deposits of lithium were forming on the battery anodes when charged at less than fifty degrees Celsius.

The researchers discouraged the plating by increasing the heat to sixty degrees C. At this temperature, batteries could be charged up to 2,500 times with no evidence of lithium plating. The same process tried at twenty degrees C showed huge degradation, with batteries showing significant deterioration due to plating after just sixty recharges.

Battery Charge Management

The symptoms seem close to the plating one finds on normal lead acid car batteries after standard charging on trickle chargers etc. Batteries left uncharged or on a low trickle charge for months can build up deposits of lead sulphate on the plates that permanently degrade the performance, with a marked increase in degradation in lower temperatures.

Owners can mitigate the effects of this plating by using battery chargers with charge management programmes, that vary the amount of voltage being fed into the battery. I have CTEK, Optimate and Facom smart chargers but there are plenty of others to choose from.

I got into using charge management devices when the kids were younger and I had an American motorhome/RV fitted with Elecsol carbon fibre leisure batteries. NLA nowadays, these batteries were efficient and lasted longer when maintained with a CTEK charger while the camper was stored between trips. Ambient temperatures had a noticeable impact on performance.

The current charge times for a 300-mile range on the typical EV are said to be about 50 minutes, meaning that Penn Sate has cut the charge rate by some 80%. The mind boggles as to what other developments across this technology may eventually be capable of bringing to EVs and the rest of our tech.

May the Porsche be with you

May the Porsche be with you

I’ve spent a lot of time with the Singer DLS in recent months. Our paths have crossed on several occasions, so I’ve had plenty of time to explore the project up close. The details are special.

Daniel Simon was creative advisor/top banana on the DLS styling. If you have never heard of the man, it is worth learning more: check out the Daniel Simon website. I follow Daniel on Instagram and his feed is highly engaging: from beautiful sculpted robotic race cars to hanging out with Valentino Rossi and designing with Singer, there’s so much great stuff. Porsche plays more than a small part.

One thing that I found quite surprising when I first started following Daniel was his work on the Star Wars films. “Working on Star Wars Episode VIII was a twenty-year dream come true,” he said. “My contribution is negligible among the insane talent of the entire art department, and it is unforgettable to work with Rian Johnson and the fine folks of ILM.”

Daniel contributed to Episode VIII and also designed several vehicle concepts, including an ‘unstable’ speeder and a luxury cruiser. The artwork is shared on his Instagram feed and is worth checking out, if only to study the level of detail that top line designers will put to in presenting their concepts.

Copyright by Cosmic Motors LLC / Daniel Simon

Porsche is not far, far away

Porsche has now announced that some of its own designers will work with the Lucasfilm team to design a ship for the world premiere of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”.

“Developing a spacecraft with clear Porsche design DNA is exciting and challenging,” said Michael Mauer, Vice President Style Porsche at Porsche AG. “Though they don’t seem to share many elements at first glance, both worlds have a similar design philosophy. The close collaboration with the Star Wars design team inspires and fascinates us – I’m sure that both sides can draw major benefits from this exchange.”

I’m not sure about the similar design philosophy bit (not that I am any sort of expert) but the major benefit to the exchange is fairly obvious. Alongside the model starship at the premiere, Porsche will showcase the Taycan. US deliveries start at the end of this year and Hollywood is packed with early adopters, so why not tie the electric sportscar into the PR maelstrom and give it the blessing of Skywalker?

I can see the scene now: “Hello, 911. May the force be with you.” “Hello Taycan. I’m not your father.” I need a t-shirt of this.

Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or to engage with me in other ways, you can: