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Innovative by tradition: 90 years of engineering services by Porsche
From the design office to an international technology company
. Porsche has been a sports car manufacturer for more than seven decades. However, technological innovations under the Porsche name go back much further: Ferdinand Porsche founded his design office in Stuttgart on 25 April 1931 and had it entered in the commercial register. Since then, the Porsche name has been closely associated with customer development projects. Today, the tradition of engineering services is successfully continued by Porsche Engineering, a wholly owned subsidiary of Porsche AG, with innovative solutions and a high level of digitalization expertise.
Porsche has been driving technological innovations on behalf of customers for 90 years. What Ferdinand Porsche began with pioneering work such as the Volkswagen is being continued at Porsche Engineering since 2001 as a separate legal company and with a focus on technologies for the intelligent and connected vehicle of the future. “The importance of software in the vehicle and vehicle environment is growing all time,” explains Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG and Chairman of the Shareholders' Committee of Porsche Engineering. “The challenge these days is to combine detailed vehicle understanding with strong software expertise. Porsche Engineering is a pro at this and is therefore of great value to us as a strategic development partner.”
The engineers and software developers analyze global and local market trends, further develop technologies and methods, give impetus to innovative ideas and put those ideas into series production for their customers. “Thanks to getting an early start on areas such as electromobility and high-voltage systems, highly automated driving functions, networking and artificial intelligence, we are now in a position to develop solutions for the full range of mobility requirements of tomorrow,” adds Peter Schäfer, CEO of Porsche Engineering. “We have evolved from a design office into a tech company.”
Porsche Engineering has established an international development network with almost 1,500 employees at locations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania, Italy and China. And it's not only the parent company which draws on this expertise. As a strategic partner, Porsche Engineering also develops new, forward-looking systems and functions for other brands of the Volkswagen Group, other automobile manufacturers, automotive suppliers and even companies outside the automotive industry.
And just like it was 90 years ago, anyone developing advanced solutions must always be one step ahead of the present. Ferdinand Porsche was a pioneer in the mechanical development of new vehicles and vehicle systems, and today Porsche Engineering combines this tradition with in-depth digital expertise. Although the possibilities are different today than they were 90 years ago, the mission remains unchanged: to develop the mobility of the future.
About Porsche Engineering
Porsche Engineering Group GmbH is an international technology partner to the automotive industry. The subsidiary of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG is developing the intelligent and connected vehicle of the future for its customers – including functions and software. Some 1,500 engineers and software developers are dedicated to the latest technologies, for example in the fields of highly automated driving functions, e-mobility and high-voltage systems, connectivity and artificial intelligence. They are carrying the tradition of Ferdinand Porsche’s design office, founded in 1931, into the future and developing the digital vehicle technologies of tomorrow. In doing so, they combine in-depth vehicle expertise with digital and software expertise.
90 years of engineering services by Porsche: Milestones
1931: Founding of the Porsche design office
At the height of the world economic crisis, on 25 April 1931, the "Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, Konstruktion und Beratung für Motoren- und Fahrzeugbau" (Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Ltd., Design and Consultancy Company for Engine and Vehicle) was entered in the Stuttgart commercial register. In addition to Ferdinand Porsche, who invested 24,000 Reichsmark in seed capital in the burgeoning corporation, his son-in-law Dr. Anton Piëch and Adolf Rosenberger become managing partners with contributions of 3,000 Reichsmark each. In the 1930s, Porsche’s enterprise became one of the most important pillars of automotive technology and at the same time paved the way for German mass motorization.
1961: Ground-breaking ceremony for the Porsche testing grounds
In the 1950s, increasingly complex vehicle development led to the decision to build a dedicated test track, which was to be designed according to the wishes of the testing departments. On 16 October 1961, ground was broken for the construction of the facilities in the Weissach and Flacht districts, 25 kilometers west of Stuttgart. A circular track called “skid pad” was built to test driving behavior and lateral acceleration, as well as two circuits. Other special sections were also built, including the pothole and rough pavement sections.
From 1971: Establishment of the Weissach Development Center (EZW)
At the end of the 1960s, plans for the Porsche Development Center Weissach (EZW) began to take shape. In the autumn of 1971, the entire development department, including design, was relocated from Zuffenhausen to Weissach. From 1974 onwards, a building in the shape of a standard hexagon was constructed, which ensured perfect working and collaboration capabilities. The following years saw the successive expansion of the EZW. The Measuring Center for Environmental Technology (MZU) was equipped with six exhaust gas test benches in 1982. Construction of the test building for engines (PMA) began in 1983. In May 1986, Porsche opened what was then the world's most modern wind tunnel. The third construction phase was completed on 29 September 1986 with an extensive crash facility. The new facility offered modern testing capabilities with weather-independent test conditions and could be flexibly adapted to new testing techniques.
1996: Founding of Porsche Engineering Services GmbH (PES)
In October 1996, Porsche Engineering Services GmbH was founded as a separate legal company for Porsche’s well-established engineering activities for external customers. Since then, the Bietigheim-Bissingen location has been an important center for Porsche Engineering’s project teams.
2001: Founding of the Porsche Engineering Group GmbH (PEG)
In 2001, Porsche Engineering Group GmbH (PEG) was founded as the central holding company for engineering services by Porsche. The Weissach-based wholly owned subsidiary of Porsche AG coordinates worldwide development projects. Thanks to the networking of Porsche Engineering locations in Germany and abroad, Porsche Engineering engineers are able to develop solutions for a wide range of requirements.
2001: Porsche Engineering Prague location
Porsche Engineering took its first step on the road to international expansion in 2001 with the opening of the company location in Prague. Specializing in complex technical calculations and simulations, Porsche Engineering Services, s.r.o., with its focus on electromobility, connectivity systems, advanced driver assistance systems and vehicle structures, is now a key component of Porsche Engineering's international engineering capacity.
2012: Acquisition of the Nardò Technical Center
With the Nardò Technical Center in Apulia in southern Italy, Porsche acquired one of the world's best-known automotive testing grounds in 2012. Since then, the testing facility has been operated by Porsche Engineering. The 700-hectare grounds feature more than 20 test tracks, including a 6.2-kilometer handling track, a 12.6-kilometer circuit, dynamics surfaces, acoustics and off-road tracks, and numerous workshops. Porsche Engineering also offers on-site engineering services.
2014: Subsidiary in China
Engineering services for Chinese customers have a long history at Porsche. Projects have been carried out for more than 20 years. In 2014, Porsche Engineering founded a subsidiary in Shanghai. Since then, the location has been the interface to local companies, but also a strategic partner for Porsche developments for the Chinese market. It specializes in chassis, electronic components and systems, test automation, rapid charging and technology scouting.
2016: Founding of Porsche Engineering Romania
Porsche Engineering expanded its in-house expertise in the field of digitalization in 2016 by establishing Porsche Engineering Romania. The Cluj-Napoca location specializes in software and function development, with close links to the other Porsche Engineering units. Laboratories for software and hardware are available for testing.
2018: Ostrava location in the Czech Republic
Since 2018, an office in Ostrava in the Czech Republic has strengthened Porsche Engineering's expertise in the field of software development.
Developments “Made by Porsche”
1931: Porsche Type 7 for Wanderer
The design office received its first official order from the automobile manufacturer Wanderer in the spring of 1931. In an extremely short development time, Porsche designed a six-cylinder engine with an initial displacement of 1.5 liters and the corresponding chassis with a swing axle. Built as the Wanderer W21 and W22, the model, known internally as the Type 7, was distinguished by its innovative light-alloy engine.
The Porsche torsion bar suspension, used for the first time in automobile construction, would prove a trend-setting development in chassis technology.
1933: Porsche Type 22 Auto Union race car
In the spring of 1933, Ferdinand Porsche was commissioned by Auto Union to develop a 16-cylinder race car. The first test drives with the Auto Union race car took place in November 1933, and during its first season in 1934 it set three world records and won several hillclimb races as well as three international Grand Prixs.
1934: Porsche Type 60
The impetus for the design of the now world-renowned Volkswagen “Beetle” came in 1934, when the Reich Association of the German Automobile Industry commissioned Ferdinand Porsche to design and build a German Volkswagen or “People’s Car.” In 1936, the Reich government decided to build its own factory for the Volkswagen, which Ferdinand Porsche was also commissioned to plan.
1938: Porsche Type 64
In 1938, the Porsche design office received an order from Volkswagen to develop a racing car based on the Porsche Type 60, which was to compete in a planned long-distance race from Berlin to Rome. Under the internal designation Type 64, Porsche engineers developed three racing coupés by the spring of 1939. With a streamlined aluminum body, covered wheel arches and a modified Volkswagen boxer engine, the car, which weighed around 600 kilograms, reached over 140 kilometers per hour.
1947: Porsche Type 360 for Cisitalia
The first large order of the post-war period came from the Italian company Cisitalia. The result, the Type 360 race car completed in 1947, featured a state-of-the-art chassis with double longitudinal control arms at the front and a double-joint swing axle at the rear, as well as an all-wheel drive.
1952: Porsche Type 542 for Studebaker
Between 1952 and 1954, Porsche developed a four-door sedan with a self-supporting body in a modern pontoon design for the US car manufacturer Studebaker. Porsche engineers designed a six-cylinder, three-liter engine and an output of 78 kW (106 hp), which they tested in both air-cooled and water-cooled variants.
1973: Long-term car research project
The long-life car research project (FLA) commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Research and Technology (BMFT), was developed as an automobile concept adapted to the changed environmental conditions. Porsche developed the concept car, internally known as Type 1989, with the aim of maximizing resource conservation. It was designed for a useful life of twenty years and a mileage of at least 300,000 kilometers. The basic idea included not only a targeted selection of materials but also the deliberate reduction of wear and tear on technical components.
1981: Collaboration with Linde
As a follow-up to its commissioning of planetary and chain drives, in 1981 warehouse technology specialist Linde Material Handling entrusted Porsche with the overall design of a new generation of forklifts. In addition to the functional design of the vehicle, the engineers paid particular attention to the development of a new driver's seat concept based on ergonomics research.
1983: TAG Turbo Formula 1 engine
Thanks to financial support from Saudi Arabian businessman Mansour Ojjeh, the British racing team McLaren was able to commission the development of a Formula 1 turbo engine in Weissach. The engine, which could produce up to 1000 hp, made its debut in the 1983 season, was virtually unbeatable between 1984 and 1986 and helped McLaren win three drivers' and two constructors' world championship titles.
1990: Mercedes-Benz 500 E
In 1990, the engineers from Porsche created a particularly powerful version of the Mercedes W124 for Mercedes-Benz, equipped with a 5-liter V8 four-valve engine. Porsche was responsible for the entire project up to small-series production at Porsche in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.
1993: Audi Avant RS2
Audi and Porsche jointly developed a high-performance sports station wagon, which was presented in autumn 1993 under the name Audi Avant RS2. The 232 kW (315 hp) RS2 variant was built in Weissach using numerous components from the Porsche range.
1994: Opel Zafira
When the Rüsselsheim-based car manufacturer Opel wanted to enter the growing market for compact MPVs, it commissioned Porsche to develop the Zafira based on the Astra model in 1994. Porsche engineers designed the body-in-white, adapted the powertrain, suspension and electrics, and took over prototype construction, vehicle testing and production planning.
2002: Racing luge for Georg Hackl
Porsche Engineering developed a competition sled for luger Georg Hackl in which he could change the damping while driving and thus achieve a higher cornering speed. The result: a Silver medal for “Hackl Schorsch” at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City (USA).
2007: Cayago Seabob
The Seabob from the manufacturer Cayago is designed for battery-powered fun on the water's surface and in the depths below. In 2007, Porsche Engineering engineers developed three electronic components for the water sports device: the battery manager, the motor control unit and the control panel with graphic display.
Since 2014: High-voltage technology for electric vehicles
For high-performance electric vehicles, Porsche Engineering develops drive systems and other solutions based on innovative 800-volt technology. In doing so, Porsche Engineering is building on a wide range of experience gained with the Porsche 919 Hybrid, for example. Porsche Engineering developed the complete energy storage system for the LMP1 prototype – from the mechanical structure to the complete system control and testing. The battery system of the 919 Hybrid paved the way for the introduction of the trend-setting 800-volt architecture in the Porsche Taycan, which today helps the electric vehicle to achieve its outstanding driving performance.
2016: Scania S-series and R-series
Porsche Engineering developed a completely new generation of cabins, including the necessary production processes, for the new model series of heavy commercial vehicles from Swedish manufacturer Scania, which was unveiled in 2016. With their expertise in the development of decidedly stiff and light body structures, the Porsche engineers developed a particularly crash-proof cabin bodyshell utilizing steels of various strength levels.
2019: Cayenne Coupé
In 2019, Porsche unveiled the Coupé variant of the successful Cayenne series, for which Porsche Engineering acted as general contractor for the overall vehicle development. The project included control of the complete process as well as development of the individual assemblies, validation of the technical properties and support during the run-up to production. In the implementation, Porsche Engineering primarily used simulation and virtual development tools instead of time-consuming and cost-intensive tests of real components and vehicles.
Since 2019: Virtual ADAS development methodology
Porsche Engineering has created a simulation environment in which functions of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) can be trained and tested virtually. Among other tools, programmers use game engines for this purpose. Game engines are software tools that are actually intended for graphical and physical simulation in computer games, but are also suitable for ADAS development due to their realistic reproduction of driving conditions. Within a very short time, the software experts can run through complex traffic scenarios, change parameters such as sunlight, weather conditions or the behavior of other road users at the push of a button, and also cover borderline situations that could not be recreated with real tests on the road, or only at a high risk.
2020: MAY sunshades
Due to their large contact surfaces, sunshades are subject to strong forces even at low wind strengths. In order to ensure the stability of the individual components and the overall construction, the MAY sunshades were subjected to load testing under extreme conditions in Porsche's wind tunnel.
2021: The intelligent and connected vehicle of the future
The vehicle of the future has a perceptive ability, processes the impressions, learns and thus adapts increasingly well to requirements. It forwards information to the back end, where all fleet data is validated and optimized in the cloud. It then receives new software packages with improved and enhanced features “over the air”. As the overall vehicle developer, Porsche Engineering is implementing the new functions in their entirety, including software, hardware and the necessary networking. In its international network of locations, Porsche Engineering brings together in-depth software expertise, comprehensive know-how in the field of driver assistance systems and artificial intelligence, as well as cloud connectivity.
Further information, film and photo material in the Porsche Newsroom: newsroom.porsche.com