Friday, November 16, 2018

Porsche Expands its Operations at Zuffenhausen

The history of the Zuffenhausen site began eighty years ago when the company known as Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche KG moved from the center of Stuttgart to the northern district. The company wrote automotive history right from the start: the 0 series of what would become the VW Beetle was made in Zuffenhausen, as were three Type 64 race coupes in the year 1939. From 1950 the first sports cars of the Porsche brand were made on the factory grounds—starting with the legendary 356 and followed by the 911 in 1964. The company’s historical headquarters are now at the threshold of a new era. A factory within the factory is being built for Taycan production. From 2019 the sports-car maker will manufacture not only its current two-door vehicles but also its first standard-series car with a fully electric drive. More than 1,200 new jobs are being created. Porsche is investing around €700 million in Zuffenhausen alone.
Tens of thousands of metric tons of steel have gone into making the new body shop, paint shop, and conveyor bridge as well as the halls for assembly and logistics, electric drive, and axle production. That’s roughly the amount needed to make one hundred thousand 911 Carrera bodies. Some twenty-eight thousand truckloads of earth have been excavated at the site. And 112,000 cubic meters of concrete have been delivered. Nearly three hundred planners and as many as three thousand plant and construction experts have been involved in transporting this enormous amount of material through Stuttgart’s dense traffic and in using it at the current construction sites. The deliveries include concrete columns that can weigh up to one hundred metric tons. In short, there’s a lot going on in these weeks and months in Zuffenhausen.

Creative ways of stretching space

“The heart of Porsche beats in Zuffenhausen,” says Reiner Luth, head planner for the factory project. Series production continues—without any interruptions or delays—right next to the buildings under construction. Luth draws a medical analogy to describe the work that’ll enable the Taycan to roll from Zuffenhausen’s production lines. “We’re basically doing open-heart surgery,” he says. Needless to say, this “procedure” poses a number of challenges.
The timetable alone is ambitious. In late 2015 Porsche made the decision to produce the Taycan at its headquarters. The clock has been ticking ever since, with series production scheduled to start in 2019. But that’s not the only challenge. “The space here is already densely packed,” explains Jürgen King, head of central construction management. He’s coordinating the project for Porsche. “For us to do the construction work, five thousand employees had to move—in about half a year.”
Zuffenhausen, 2018, Porsche AG

Porsche is currently adding production facilities for the Taycan to its headquarters

Porsche’s headquarters is bordered on all sides. It directly adjoins residential areas, property owned by other companies, train tracks, and streets. For example, a major four-lane street separates the assembly line from the new paint shop and the Taycan body shop. These close quarters call for ingenuity. When adding new facilities to the site in the past, Porsche built vertically—and is doing the same thing now. Production of the new electric Porsche will take place on four levels of the new assembly and logistics hall and the body shop. The assembly process will proceed from top to bottom, moving down to the ground floor where the new sports cars will roll from the hall following their final inspections. The technical systems that control all of the production processes are housed in the cellar. The result is a logistical masterpiece nearly unprecedented in the automotive sector.
Looking out at the expansion work, Luth speaks of a “gigantic challenge.” And King adds: “Given these framework conditions, what we have is not only the biggest but also the fastest-moving construction site in Porsche’s history.” The decision to expand the factory at Zuffenhausen has never been questioned. The megaproject will make the company headquarters better equipped for the future. It’s a strong affirmation of the site and its people—and guarantees Taycan customers the quality of being “made in Germany.“

Sustainable cars from sustainable production

The electric drive systems and axles for the first e-Porsche will also be made in Zuffenhausen. “We’re especially proud of them,” says Luth. The same applies to the goal of a CO2-neutral factory—“the icing on the cake of all these challenges,” as King puts it. Plans call for forty-two thousand square meters of green roof cover and for trees to be planted around the new factory halls. At the same time, older buildings that are inefficient and less environmentally friendly will disappear. People who visit or simply drive past the headquarters in the future should immediately recognize that Porsche places a premium on sustainability and climate protection. “When we’re finished expanding the factory for the Taycan, Porsche will produce zero-emission cars in a CO2-neutral plant,” says construction head King. “And that,” he adds, “is a well-rounded result.”
Conveyor system, Zuffenhausen, 2018, Porsche AG

The view from inside the new conveyor bridge reveals a lot of activity at Porsche’s headquarters. New structures are being added to the old, and the red-brick building—the nucleus of the site—is surrounded by steel and glass facades that herald a new era for a company rich in tradition. In addition to classic sports cars, the first Porsches with a fully electric drive will be made here starting in late 2019. The conveyor bridge, one of the longest in the world, will transport drive system components and painted e-car bodies from the paint shop to the assembly line—at a height of twenty meters above a four-lane main road in Stuttgart that divides the headquarters in half.

Length: 890 meters
Levels: 2
Facade: 17,000 square meters
Windows: 2
Assembly and logistics, Zuffenhausen, 2018, Porsche AG

Spacious quarters for the Taycan: the new assembly and logistics hall will be Porsche’s largest building complex in Zuffenhausen. The enormous dimensions make its construction a balancing act for the planners. While the four-level structure is going up in record time, production of the 911, Boxster, and Cayman, as well as Porsche engines, continues despite the construction. Assembly systems for the new e-Porsche are currently being installed in the hall. And the first standard-series Taycans will roll from the assembly line next year.

Excavated earth: 240,000 cubic meters
Height: 38 meters
Depth below ground: 25 meters
Gross floor area: 62,000 square meters
Hall volume: 360,000 cubic meters
Prefab components: 2,760
Paint shop, Zuffenhausen, 2018, Porsche AG

Final work on the interior—including the floor and ceiling—of the paint shop designed specifically for the Taycan is taking place while the equipment is being installed and the paint systems set up. One of the building’s special features: the steel structure is self-supporting.

Length: 216 meters
Height: 28 meters
Material: 6,900 metric tons of steel
Body shop, Zuffenhausen, 2018, Porsche AG

The new body shop is the second-largest building complex at the site, surpassed only by the Taycan assembly and logistics hall. Construction started in the last quarter of 2015. The first preproduction bodies are already being made here—for the 911 and, in the future, for the Taycan as well.

Hall volume: 320,000 cubic meters
Gross floor area: 65,000 square meters
Height: 30 meters
Material: 20,000 metric tons of steel, 35,000 cubic meters of concrete
1938: Ferdinand Porsche’s design office moves from Kronenstraße in Stuttgart’s city center to Zuffenhausen. Today’s Plant 1 has just been built.
1953: The assembly hall (Plant 2, Building 1) designed by Rolf Gutbrod begins operation. Porsche started making its first sports cars in Zuffenhausen three years earlier.
1963: Porsche expands rapidly in the early 1960s. The headquarters are developed further, and car pick-up facilities, a gate, and Plant 3 are added.
1973: After introducing the Porsche 911, the sports-car maker takes over the Reutter body shop in 1964. Five years later Building 41 is added to Plant 2.
1988: The new body shop is built. It’ll become Plant 5, which is connected to Plant 2 by a conveyor bridge. Production of the Porsche 911 Type 964 begins shortly thereafter.
2015: Six plants, a Porsche Center, and the Porsche Museum—the Zuffenhausen site now has an area of 614,000 square meters. The historical Plant 1 is just one building among many.
2018: 10,600 employees

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology: Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL

Berlin. Mercedes-Benz is setting a further milestone on the road to emission-free driving with the handover of the first GLC F-CELL vehicles to selected customers in the German market. The Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL (combined hydrogen consumption: 0.34 kg/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km, combined electrical consumption: 13.7 kWh/100 km)1 is unique worldwide as it features both fuel cells and a battery drive which can be charged externally using plug-in technology. Alongside various national and regional ministries as well as the National Organisation Hydrogen (NOW) and H2 Mobility, the first customers in the German market also include Deutsche Bahn, the German railways. Further handovers will also be made this year, including to the companies Air Liquide, Shell, Linde AG and also the cities of Stuttgart and Hamburg. Other business as well as private customers in Germany will also be able to enjoy access to the GLC F-CELL from the spring of 2019 via Mercedes-Benz Rent.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL is a unique plug-in hybrid as apart from electricity it can also run on pure hydrogen. The SUV is an all-electric vehicle suitable for everyday use which emits no CO2 emissions whatsoever during operation. The interplay between battery and fuel cell, a long range and short refuelling times make the GLC F‑CELL a vehicle which boasts high everyday practicality. Two carbon-fibre-encased tanks in the vehicle floor hold 4.4 kg of hydrogen. Thanks to globally standardised 700-bar tank technology, the hydrogen supply can be replenished within just three minutes - as quickly as is customary when refuelling a combustion-engined car. With a hydrogen consumption of around 1 kg/100 km, the GLC F-CELL achieves around 430 hydrogen-based kilometres1 in the NEDC cycle; in hybrid mode it additionally delivers up to 51 km1 on a fully charged battery. At the same time, an output of 155 kW helps to ensure high driving dynamics.
Coordinated: operating strategy with a unique variety of combinations
The innovative plug-in fuel cell drive combines the advantages of both zero-emission drive technologies and, thanks to its intelligent operating strategy, continuously optimises the use of both energy sources in line with the current operating situation. This is also influenced by the selected drive program: ECO, COMFORT or SPORT.
There are four operating modes:
HYBRID: the vehicle draws power from both energy sources. Power peaks are handled by the battery, while the fuel cell runs in the optimum efficiency range.
F-CELL: the state of charge of the high-voltage battery is kept constant by the energy from the fuel cell. Only hydrogen is consumed. This mode is ideal for steady cruising over long distances.
BATTERY: the GLC F-CELL runs all-electrically and is powered by the high-voltage battery. The fuel cell system is not in operation. This is the ideal mode for short distances.
CHARGE: charging the high-voltage battery has priority, for example in order to recharge the battery for the maximum overall range prior to refuelling with hydrogen or to create power reserves.
In all operating modes, the system features an energy recovery function, which makes it possible to recover energy during braking or coasting and to store it in the battery.
Marketing in hydrogen cities
In view of the new technology and the fact that the hydrogen filling station network has only just started to expand, the market launch of the GLC F-CELL is taking place in selected metropolitan regions. Above all the focus is on major cities which are already comparatively well equipped with hydrogen filling stations, such as Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich and Cologne. At market launch the SUV will be handed over successively to selected customers in Germany. The GLC F-CELL will be offered exclusively in the form of a full-service rental model. This will include all maintenance and possible repairs together with a comprehensive warranty package covering the entire rental period.
Experience fuel cell technology – renting the GLC F-CELL
From the spring of 2019, other business as well as private customers will also be able to experience the new fuel cell technology and rent the vehicle via Mercedes-Benz Rent from one of the seven GLC F-CELL outlets throughout Germany. The GLC F-CELL will be available for both short and long-term rental via the Premium Car Rental service from Mercedes-Benz.
Infrastructure is of vital importance
A full-coverage infrastructure is an essential requirement for the success of electric mobility in Germany. Both the expansion of electric charging stations as well hydrogen refuelling stations is currently being pushed ahead. Whether at home, at work, on the road or when shopping: currently there are already various ways to supply electric vehicles with power. Also when it comes to the hydrogen infrastructure, progress is constantly being made. Together with its partners in the H2 Mobility joint venture, Daimler has drawn up a plan of action. By the end of 2019, the hydrogen refuelling station network is already expected to grow from its current level of 50 to some 100 stations. The long-term objective of the partners is a network of up to 400 hydrogen refuelling stations. Similar infrastructure projects are being promoted in Europe, the USA and Japan.
Daimler is part of Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME), a lighthouse project promoted by FCH JU which combines Europe's leading initiatives in the field of hydrogen mobility – in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. Via H2ME, the FCH JU is promoting the expansion of a large-scale H2 filling station infrastructure and the development of fuel cell vehicles such as the GLC F-CELL with the goal of enabling emission-free driving all over Europe. Daimler AG has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 671438 and No 700350. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research.
Pioneer: Daimler has been working on the fuel cell for more than 30 years
Daimler researchers have been working on fuel cell technology since the 1980s. In 1994, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first fuel cell vehicle to the global public: the NECAR 1. Many other vehicles followed: to date, fuel cell vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, including the B-Class F-CELL, have together covered over eighteen million kilometres, thereby demonstrating the maturity of the powertrain concept.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Auto Racing and Drug Smuggling: The Stories of Bill and Don Whittington and Randy Lanier

!979 Le Mans winning Kremer Porsche
Don (left) and Bill Whittington (center) chat with actor Paul Newman at the Le Mans race in 1979.

I continue to learn more an more about the automobile and American life. The stories of Bill and Don Whittington and Randy Lanier sound too good to be true. All three were involved in high-stakes marijuana smuggling in South Florida during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Whittington brothers won Le Mans in 1979 in a production car, the first to do so since 1953. 

 But the wheels came off in the 1980s. Bill was  sentenced to 15 years in prison for tax evasion and a conspiracy to smuggle drugs. Bill Whittington, now 59, pleaded guilty to income-tax evasion and conspiracy to smuggle marijuana in 1986. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to surrender aircraft, race cars and boats valued at $7 million. He was released from custody in November 1990 and for a time managed a Pagosa Springs, Colorado resort. 

Don Whittington, 61, pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with his brother Bill's illegal activity. He was released from an 18-month federal sentence in March 1988. Their Le Mans-winning Kremer Porsche was the center subsequent litigation with the Indy Museum over whether it was a gift or a loan.
Don subsequently piloted a hot-rod P-51 Mustang at Reno and other air races. Later he owned and operated World Jet, a charter and maintenance service at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. 
Brother Dale Whittington also drove at Indy.  He did not serve time in prison, and raced sports cars as late as 2000. He was working for his brother at World Jet when his son discovered his body in his home on June 14, 2003. The Broward County, Fla., coroner attributed 43-year-old Dale's death to a drug overdose.

Randy Lanier at Watkins Glen, 1984

Randy Lanier was the highest finishing rookie driver at Indianapolis in 1986. A drug smuggler in the 1970s, he became interested in sports cares after going to the Miami Auto Show in 1979. He later bought a rusty 1957 Porsche and by 1982 found himself running dope and at Daytona and Le Mans. He established the Blue Thunder race team in 1984, funded by drug sales, nd proved to be astonishingly successful in the IMSA Camel GT Series. In March 1984 the team placed 2nd at the 13 hours of Sebring and then a month later won the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside. Blue Thunder won half of the rest of the series races, and then in 1984 won the Camel GT Championship.

Later arrested, released and then fleeing to Barbuda, Lanier was finally apprehended by the FBI and sentenced to life without parole under the Super Drug Kingpin Law. Released in 2014, his story needs to be told in a book and perhaps a film!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Jerry Seinfeld and his Porsches

An interview published in a Porsche publication -- 

1. What is love?
All you need.

2. How are you?
Good. And you?

3. How would you describe the Porsche 911 in a nutshell?
A true sports car. Intelligent, complete engineering, and brilliant design language.

4. Which very simple things can make you very happy?
Shifting gear. Using a turn signal. Closing a trunk lid.

5. What would you never do in a 911?
Eat food.

6. What’s your favorite road?
Encinal Canyon Road in Malibu, California.

7. What can distract you?
My kids. Or something falling off a truck.

8. Three things you would take to a deserted island?
A 356 Speedster, a 964 Carrera RS, and a 918 Spyder.

9. Whom or what do you admire?

10. What on a 911 could you do without?
Most of the time, air conditioning.

11. And what couldn’t you?
Great steering.

12. What music did you wake up to this morning?
The Beatles.

13. Your favorite film?
The Graduate by Mike Nichols, because it’s mostly about cars and girls.

14. Your favorite book?
Harpo Speaks! by Harpo Marx.
15. Your latest social media post?
I’ll pass.

16. Your most treasured possession?
The 1970 Targa Florio-winning Porsche 908/03 chassis number 008.

17. Coffee or tea?

18. The 911 moment of your life?
January 20, 1988. Bought my first one, a black Carrera. Still love it.

19. Your best advice?
Pay attention.

20. What would no one expect of you?
Who cares what other people expect?
Born: 1954
Residence: New York City, USA
Profession: Comedian
Porsche: A large number of 911s

The Future is Coming sooner than you think: Autonomous-Driven Mercedes S-Class in San Jose, CA

Stuttgart/San José. Located on the southern shore of San Francisco Bay in Silicon Valley, and with more than 1 million inhabitants, San José is the third biggest city in California. It is planned to be the pilot city for trials, targeted to begin during the second half of 2019, of the highly and fully automated driving (SAE Level 4/5) on-demand ride-hailing service recently announced by Daimler and Bosch. The three parties have signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue and finalize this activity. Using automated Mercedes-Benz S-Class vehicles, Daimler and Bosch propose to offer the service to a selected user community in the San Carlos/Stevens Creek corridor between downtown and west San José. With its population expected to grow 40 percent in the next two decades, the metropolitan area faces growing transportation challenges. Moreover, San José wants to prepare itself for a future in which autonomous cars hit the streets.
“The pilot project is an opportunity to explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs,” says Sam Liccardo, mayor of San José. “Since many years we consequently push autonomous driving. With this pilot we will generate valuable insights to connect fully automated vehicles in the best way with users of future mobility services,” says Dr. Michael Hafner, Vice President Drive Technologies and Automated Driving at Daimler AG. “ We have to rethink urban transportation. Automated driving will help us complete the picture of future urban traffic,” says Dr. Stephan Hönle, senior vice president of the Automated Driving business unit at Robert Bosch GmbH. 
The on-demand ride-hailing service app operated by Daimler Mobility Services will demonstrate how mobility services such as car sharing (car2go), ride-hailing (mytaxi) and multi-modal platforms (moovel) can be intelligently connected. The test operation will provide information about how highly and fully automated vehicles can be integrated into a multi-modal transportation network. The intent is to provide a seamless digital experience, in which a selected user community will have the opportunity to hail a self-driving car, monitored by a safety driver, from a designated pick-up location and drive automatically to their destination.
Automated vehicles make urban mobility more attractive
With their joint development work on highly and fully automated driving (SAE level 4/5) in urban environments, Daimler and Bosch aim to improve the flow of traffic in cities, enhance road safety, and provide an important building block for the way traffic will work in the future. Among other things, with cars coming to drivers, not the other way around, the technology will boost the attraction of car sharing. Without compromising driving safety, it will allow people to make the best possible use of their time they spend in their vehicles, and open up new mobility opportunities for people without a driver’s licence.
Daimler and Bosch associates share the same office space
Daimler and Bosch associates involved in the development project work together in teams in two regions: in the greater Stuttgart area in Germany and, in the United States, around Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley between San José and of San Francisco. Since they share the same office space, rapid communication across working disciplines is ensured and decision-making paths are short. At the same time they can draw on the combined know-how of their colleagues in the parent companies.
The companies`associates are jointly developing the concepts and algorithms for the highly and fully automated drive system. Daimler's task is to bring the drive system into the car. The company is providing the necessary development vehicles, test facilities, and vehicles for the test fleet. Bosch is responsible for the components specified during the development work, such as sensors, actuators, and control units. For test purposes, the partners use their laboratories and test rigs, plus their respective test sites in Germany. Since obtaining its Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles in 2014, Mercedes-Benz has been testing automated vehicles in the Sunnyvale/California region. And since 2016, it has had similar approval for the greater Stuttgart area in Germany. In early 2013, Bosch was the world’s first automotive supplier to test automated driving (SAE level 3) on public roads in Germany and in the United States.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review of Gregory A. Cagle's Scenes from an Automotive Wonderland: Remarkable Cars Spotted in Postwar Europe

Gregory A. Cagle, Scenes from an Automotive Wonderland: Remarkable Cars Spotted in Postwar Europe.Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2018. pISBN 978-1-4766-7178-9. eISBN 978-1-4766-3053-3. 245 pp., Bibliography and Index. $39.95.

I didn’t know what to expect when I first opened the pages to Gregory Cagle’s Scenes from an Automotive Wonderland.  I found a gamut of wonderfully rare and unusual photographs of European car that spanned from the 1920s to 1950s.  As it turns out, the author, as a 10-15 year old kid, took these images between 1956 and 1961. Cagle’s father, a U.S. Army civil servant with a five-year appointment, travelled far and wide in post-war Europe while on business. His son came along for the ride in the backseat of a 1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner Coupe, snapping pictures of cars at every opportunity. Only recently – after 55 years -- did the author, prodded by car collector friend Jeff Trepel, take these images out of hibernation for us to enjoy.

The result of all of this is a book with so many unusual cars and scenes that it boggles the mind. And despite the fact that young Cagle took these photos with a $19 Iloca camera, the results are sharp and striking. With German cities often under reconstruction as a background, the images are grouped in six chapters: Survivors,pre-WWII automobiles that somehow escaped destruction; Lilliputia, a myriad of micro-cars that filled the streets of Europe during the 1950s; Mundania, everyday cars in urban surroundings and people of interest; Exotica,Alfas, Aston Martin, Fiat, Lagonda, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and the like; Built for Speed, competition cars of the day; and finally Mysteries-- you go figure them out! 

With each automobile featured the author has written a two-to-three paragraph description including the date and place associated with the photograph and a brief description of the car and its historical significance. Included are cars that I have never seen or heard of before, and I am confident you will also be tested for your car spotting knowledge. There is a bibliography, but I found it overly reliant on Internet sources and not definitive. But in fairness some of the cars depicted have left us few sources in the English language to refer to.

If you are interested in European cars this is a must read, not only for the knowledge that is gained, but for the fun time spent in an automotive wonderland.