Aussie tech for Porsche super-hybrid

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 Porsche’s million-dollar 918 Spyder hyper-hybrid will be fitted with an Australian-designed and developed cooling system when it makes its global production debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Just 918 customer examples of the left-hand-drive-only successor to the Carrera GT will be built, with production starting on September 18 (9/18, as it’s known in Europe), making the plug-in 918 Spyder supercar one of the most anticipated new car launches for 2013.

Porsche has been drip-feeding information about the 918 for months, but a little known fact is that the hybrid hypercar’s innovative powertrain will be cooled with technology sourced from Australia.

Gold Coast company PWR (Paul Weel Radiators) is supplying the cooling system for the 918, which will be powered by a 4.6-litre petrol V8 engine and two electric motors to deliver a total of 575kW and 750Nm of torque when linked in parallel.

The 425kW V8 engine and a 90kW electric motor power the rear axle and a single 80kW electric motor on the front axle to create all-wheel drive. The rear-mounted electric motor doubles as the generator supplying power to a 6.8kWh lithium-ion battery, which can also be charged by plugging the car into mains power.

This powertrain is claimed to propel the sub-1700kg Spyder from zero to 100km/h in less than three seconds and on to 300km/h in less than 27-seconds. In September 2012, a 918 Spyder prototype lapped the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in seven minutes and 14 seconds on road tyres, making it one of the quickest road cars ever at the famed German road circuit.

The 918 will revolutionise sports cars by combining performance with economy like no vehicle before it, with an expected fuel consumption rating lower than 3.0L/100km. In addition, the 918 will offer an electric-only range of more than 25km and can travel up to 150km/h on pure electric power.

Cooling this innovative drivetrain provided PWR with a unique set of challenges, but the can-do Queensland outfit used its extensive experience in the development of motorsport and production car cooling systems to keep the 918’s internal combustion engine and both of its electric motors at their prime operating temperatures in all conditions.

Official images of a stripped-down early 918 prototype in testing last year clearly showed two large aluminium coolers ahead of the rear wheels on either side of the chassis. PWR engineers have confirmed that these were not their radiators but that subsequent prototypes and the production vehicles will be fitted with Australian-made PWR radiators specifically designed and manufactured for the 918 at its Queensland factory.

Various oil-coolers fitted to the 918 will also be shipped direct to Zuffenhausen from PWR.

PWR is a family business that designs and manufactures lightweight aluminium radiators, oil-coolers and intercoolers both for local sale and export around the world. Its clients include the Formula One championship-winning Red Bull Racing, as well as leading NASCAR, Le Mans, Porsche Carrera Cup and V8 Supercar teams.

In fact, PWR is the leading producer of cooling systems for F1 and Red Bull is just one of eight current teams using its products. The Gold Coast factory has a specialist F1 room operating full time and products for other leading global motorsport teams were being handmade as we toured the factory. Understandably, however, much of this equipment is highly classified and could not be photographed.

Other top-shelf road-going sports cars using PWR cooling systems include Aston Martin’s exclusive One-77, the bespoke Pagani Huayra and, soon, the Porsche 918 Spyder. PWR also makes products to upgrade the cooling systems for a variety of road cars, with a range of replacement radiators available - many designed to fix specific cooling problems with certain makes and models.

Its top-selling product is a replacement aluminium radiator for the Nissan Patrol, a vehicle that is known to overheat when towing in the hills. All PWR radiators - be they for Red Bull F1 or a family road car - are handmade, backing claims that its products are of superior quality to mass-produced items.

In 2012 the company designed, built and installed a state-of-the-art $1-million wind tunnel for testing its products. This was done in conjunction with Red Bull F1 and is also used by other motorsport teams when not in use by PWR.

Late last year PWR Performance Products was awarded the Prime Minister’s 2012 Australian Exporter of the Year award, with judges commending the business for its innovative export strategy that relies on technology excellence and the ability to remain in front of global competitors.

The company was also the recipient of the 2012 Small to Medium Manufacturer Award. Around 63 per cent of PWR’s 2012 business was exported and that is expected to climb closer to 70 per cent this year.

PWR currently employs 75 people on the Gold Coast - up from 45 in just three years - and the business is still growing. In addition to its motorsport and replacement parts products it is looking at other ventures such as military, industrial and aerospace applications.

The company claims to have the ability to produce a cooling solution for anything that gets hot and the high-tech 918 Spyder is an indication of the standard it has achieved.

To find PWR products and many other options for all your cooling needs, click here and insert your year, make and model.


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