Tesla aims to beat Porsche Nurburgring laptime
An electrifying showdown looms as Elon Musk prepares to knock Taycan off its high-performance pedestal
Electric-car maker Tesla is reportedly getting ready to challenge the Porsche Taycan’s recent Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record for electric cars.
Last month the new Taycan Turbo S silently zoomed around the green hell in just seven minutes and 42 seconds, making it the fastest battery-powered production car around the iconic German circuit.
The feat wasn’t lost on Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who teased Porsche for the turbo nomenclature on the Taycan given that turbochargers are only used in combustion engines. He tweeted “Um, @Porsche, this word Turbo does not mean what you think it does.”
However, later the SA-born billionaire more charitably tweeted: “But Taycan does seem like a good car. Nurburgring track time is great.”
He then posted a video on Twitter claiming that a Model S had set a record for the fastest four-door car at the Laguna Seca racetrack in the US, with a time of 1:36.555.
He now reportedly plans to challenge the Taycan’s Nurburgring laptime with a Tesla Model S. The most powerful version of the car, wielding 568kW of power, holds the record for the fastest-accelerating production car with a 0-97km/h time of 2.28 seconds using its “ludicrous” mode.
The Taycan Turbo S produces 560kW of power from its four electric motors.
The showdown has the makings of an epic battle between the German and American carmakers, and it’s been escalated by 2016 Formula One champion Nico Rosberg’s offer on Twitter to drive the Tesla — an offer Musk has accepted.
Spy photos showed that a modified Model S was testing at the German track last week, but it’s not known when the car might make a laptime attempt.
Get ready for an electric Mercedes-AMG
Fresh from revealing its EQS luxury electric concept car at the Frankfurt motor show, Mercedes has revealed that there will be battery-powered AMG cars in future.
Mercedes CEO Ola Källenius told Autocar that the experience of driving an AMG car is more important that whatever propulsion system is driving it, which is why there will not be just electrified AMGs but also the first fully electric AMGs.
"We have to get to the point where the means of propulsion is not considered important, because AMG is all about the experience of customers,” he said.
Mercedes-AMG has previously built an electric vehicle, the SLS Electric Drive of 2013 which was based on the petrol-powered sports car, but it hasn’t developed a dedicated battery car before.
Källenius didn’t give a timeline for introduction or any further details on what an AMG electric car might look like, but a super sedan to take on the Porsche Taycan might be an obvious route to take.
There’s no doubt that electric cars can be scorchingly fast, as proven by the SLS Electric Drive which blitzed the 0-100km/h sprint in 3.9 seconds, but the disinctive sound of a Mercedes-AMG car is what lures buyers as much as the performance. Will these customers accept a silent-but-violent experience, or a simulated AMG roar through the car’s speakers? Time will tell.
Continental designs tomorrow’s smart tyre
With cars getting ever smarter and more digitised, tyres are following suit.
Tyre pressure monitors have been around for some time now in mostly higher-end cars, but at the Frankfurt motor show Continental launched tyres that can also monitor their own tread depth, their temperature, and possible damage.
The monitoring system, which is called ContiSense, transmits the information to drivers, and also remotely to fleet operators who can monitor the tyre condition of their vehicles in real time.
Tyre pressures can also be adjusted on the move by means of centrifugal pumps built into the wheel. As the vehicle accelerates, the centrifugal force of the turning wheel act on the pump to generate compressed air, which keeps the tyre at the ideal specified pressure.
An integrated tank is used to store any excess compressed air, which is used to rapidly adapt the tyre pressure to various driving situations. Continental didn’t reveal how soon the technology would be available.
Porsche 911 is world's most profitable car
The most profitable car launched in the past year was the new Porsche 911, according to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence.
The eighth generation of Porsche’s sports car, launched at the beginning of this year, accounted for 29% of Porsche earnings even though it made up only 11% of sales, the report said.
That 29% beats cars like the Aston Martin DBX (21% of total vehicle contribution), Ferrari F8 Tributo (17%), Mercedes-Benz GLE (16%) and BMW X5 (16%), each of which also punch above their weight in terms of profit margins.
The F8 Tributo, for example, has a 50% sales margin but contributes just 17% of total vehicle earnings at Ferrari. Aston Martin will sell an anticipated 4,500 units of its DBX in 2020, doubling sales volumes and singlehandedly accounting for 21% of total vehicle contribution at the UK sports car maker.
As for the SUVs, the GLE, together with its GLS sibling, will account for 24% of earnings at Mercedes in 2020, from just 9% of total volume; the BMW X5 will account for 16% of auto earnings, with just 7% of BMW's volume.
All these models generate a disproportionately high level of overall earnings, said Michael Dean, automotive equity research analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.
The 911 is very profitable in standard form, and when you add the variations, the margins became immense, he commented. He added that automakers use lucrative options such as ceramic brakes and turbocharging variants to increase the base suggested retail prices without incurring much additional cost themselves.