The Automotive Group within Continental, the international automotive supplier, is responsible for an extensive range of components in the Porsche Panamera. This fourth model series from the Stuttgart-based vehicle manufacturer includes outstanding technology in the form of a new air-spring suspension with adjustable spring rate, allowing push-button selection of a variety of suspension settings from comfortable to very dynamic. The system, developed in collaboration with Porsche engineers, is produced by the Chassis & Safety Division. The Powertrain Division supplies the complex controls for the Porsche double-clutch transmission, ensuring short gearshift times with minimum fuel consumption, while the Interior Division provides not only the Panamera’s instrumentation but also virtually all the vehicle’s comfort function control units. “Our extensive involvement in such a high-end category vehicle underlines the claim made by Continental’s Automotive Group that it can provide vehicle manufacturers with complete design solutions,” says Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, Chief Executive Officer of Continental AG and Head of the Automotive Group.
No compromises: air-spring suspension over a wide range from comfort to dynamic driving
Instead of adjusting the vehicle’s suspension to a compromise setting between comfortable and sporty tuning, Porsche has opted to install Continental’s completely new air-spring suspension with adjustable spring rate in the Panamera. The adjustable spring rate is achieved by connecting and disconnecting an extra air volume supply for each spring but it poses huge challenges when designing the electronics for controlling the system. Starting from the basic comfort setting, the driver can change to the sports suspension mode at the touch of a button thanks to active suspension system. The vehicle’s sporty performance can be further enhanced, due to the integrated design of all the drive and suspension systems, by pressing the Sport Plus button available in the optional Sport Chrono packages. In addition, adaptive air suspension with its individually selectable additional volume of air in each spring – a feature which is normally only available as an option – is fitted as standard in the Panamera Turbo, producing an even greater and previously unachievably wide range of chassis characteristics between dynamic and comfortable suspension programs. The air volume for the air suspension system is provided by a novel air supply system, unique in that it operates on the self-contained principle. The a
ir volume required to control the pressure adjustments is pumped into and out of the air springs from a reservoir. Compared with open systems which vent the air to the outside, the self-contained system reduces energy consumption by roughly one third, shortens compressor operating time to about a quarter and, at the same time, provides superior control response speed. The Chassis & Safety Division’s self-contained air supply system and the specially developed compressor are now being installed by a European manufacturer for the first in a luxury class vehicle.
Energy efficiency in the transmission and fuel supply system
The Powertrain Division supplies the transmission controls for the seven-speed double-clutch transmission fitted as standard in the Porsche Panamera 4S and Panamera Turbo. The electronics select the gear and control the gear shifts in accordance with the shift programs, taking both engine and vehicle speed and the driver’s requirements into account. This allows rapid gearshift times with maximum precision and performance. With the double-clutch transmission, optimum clutch control is the decisive factor in achieving maximum transmission efficiency. Compared with standard transmissions, double-clutch transmissions offer significant improvements in responsiveness, gearshift times, sportiness, fuel consumption and driving characteristics. Continental quite consciously optimized the control electronics with these features in mind. Continental is the world’s leading supplier of double-clutch transmission control units.
In order to meet the very high technical and ecological requirements for the Panamera, the Powertrain Division has developed an innovative, highly integrated and high-performance fuel supply system. In order to reduce the vehicle’s electrical energy consumption, Continental’s engineers have opted for the demand-controlled pump principle. The pump control electronics are installed outside the fuel tank, with a communication interface to the engine management system. The supply unit itself, including the fuel pump, fuel level sensor and main fuel filter, is designed as a “whole life” component and is located in one of the two fuel tank chambers. The pump is driven by a brushless motor which, compared with motors fitted with mechanical commutators, has the advantage of a considerably longer service life. A fuel level gauge, equipped with a Magnetic Passive Position Sensor (MAPPS) is installed in each of the two tank chambers and on the flange above them. The design of this fuel level gauge, developed and patented by Continental, protects it from fouling, wear and corrosion because the actual se
nsor elements and the ceramic substrate are placed in a hermetically sealed housing.
The Porsche Panamera’s gasoline direct injection uses electromagnetically operated swirl injectors which have to cover a broad working spectrum from demands for maximum power and torque at one extreme to consumption-optimized partial load at the other. A three-piston high-pressure pump is used for supplying fuel to the induction engine; the turbo version is equipped with a six-piston pump.
All the comfort function control units from a single source
Virtually all the comfort CAN bus control units in the Porsche Panamera come from the Interior Division. These include the gateway, i.e. the central communications interface for passing signals between the seven data buses (CAN, LIN) in the vehicle. This interface provides workshop access for vehicle diagnosis purposes and allows the software in the various control units to be updated. The gateway also helps to control the vehicle’s electrical energy management system, a vital contribution towards reducing CO2 emissions. The electronic ignition starter switch and the car key electronics are also supplied by the Interior Division. The two central control units (Body Control Modules) manage all the interior and exterior lamps, the anti-theft lock, the Servotronic system and most of the vehicle’s comfort functions. The door control unit is responsible for operating the windows, including the obstruction sensor, and the childproof locks and for controlling the mirrors, including storing personalized mirror settings. The seats have their own separate control units for adjusting the driver’s seat, and the front passenger’s seat and the rear seats to the individual settings according to the body characteristics. And the trunk lid control unit monitors the electric motor, which is also radio remote-controllable, for opening and closing the trunk including obstruction sensor.
The special feature of the instrument cluster is its full-screen TFT color display, located immediately next to the rev counter in a separate “tube” dial-type gauge typical of Porsche. What at first looks like a dial with its needle missing, turns out to be a multi-role display for the on-board computer, the tire pressure monitoring system and the ACC proximity warning system, and for displaying warning signals, operating the auxiliary heating and much more. It can even display the navigation map.
The instrument cluster also consists of six needle displays: the centrally-placed rev counter plus the analog tacho and the fuel reading, coolant temperature, oil temperature and oil pressure displays. The mileage covered and the current gear indicator are shown on segment displays. High quality acoustic warnings are also controlled via the instrument cluster including the park pilot sounds of the external speakers.
Electric parking brake
The Porsche Panamera’s electromechanical parking brake is supplied by the Chassis & Safety Division. The brake operates on the duo-servo principle and consists of a central control unit and two electromechanical directly operated duo servo brakes. The duo-servo is a self-reinforcing drum brake located in the brake disk pot.
For the Panamera, Porsche is using Continental’s Type 9 brake hoses for the first time. These brake hose pipes, made of synthetic rubber (EPDM) and a high-tensile substrate provide maximum stress resistance to pressure, high temperatures, petroleum and oil. The window and headlamp cleaning systems are also supplied by the Chassis & Safety Division.