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Porsche isn’t the first name in hybrids, or even in green cars. But the company is leveraging its depth of engineering knowledge to move forward in the field rather quicker than a small company should.
Examples of this include the 918 Spyder supercar and the new 2014 Panamera S E-Hybrid. The 918’s 887-horsepower rating and 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds capabilities are impressive, especially in light of its target gas mileage of 85.6 mpg in the European cycle. But the Panamera S E-Hybrid is the car those closer to ordinary mortal status will be able to attain.
And it’s no slouch, either. Porsche estimates fuel consumption at 75.8 mpg in the European cycle (3.1 liters per 100 kilometers), thanks to a set of updates to the engine and hybrid system. What that will translate to in U.S. EPA testing remains to be seen, but it’s not likely to be 75 mpg.
Now sporting a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine paired with an electric motor and a 9.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Panamera S E-Hybrid generates a combined output of 416 horsepower, managing a 5.2-second sprint to 60 mph despite the extra 550 pounds of battery pack compared to a non-hybrid Panamera S. A PDK dual-clutch transmission is skipped in favor of a Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic, chosen because it works more fluidly with the electric side of the powertrain.
That electric side is surprisingly potent, offering up to a claimed 22 miles of all-electric driving at speeds up to 83 mph. In our brief drive of the car last week in Germany, we easily achieved a total electric-only range of 25 miles, and under the right conditions, even farther would be possible.
When driving in electric mode, the Panamera S E-Hybrid behaves like just about any other all-electric car. There’s not as much ultimate power on tap as in the Tesla Model S, but the high-torque (229-pound-feet) 95-horsepower electric motor is plenty for accelerating from stop lights and maintaining speed on the highway. For the statisticians, the S E-Hybrid’s motor operates at 360 volts, up from the previous hybrid’s 288 volts.
In hybrid mode, the Panamera S E-Hybrid drives like a normal car, with the hybrid function essentially transparent. If the battery charge is fully depleted, the Panamera will run on engine alone–and can even tap into the engine’s output to charge the battery on the fly in E-Charge mode. Porsche estimates it to require about 30 miles of on-road driving to fully recharge the battery pack in E-Charge mode.
The new luxury hybrid sedan can also be charged from AC power. An included Porsche Universal Charger will replenish the battery in about 2.5 hours when connected to a 240-volt source. Because of the standard plug-in power connector, it can also be recharged at public charging stations. The Porsche charger can also be used with 120-volt sources. A Porsche Design charging dock is also included to mount the universal charger to the owner’s home.
Another fuel-saving feature is the new “coasting” mode, which turns off the engine and lets the car coast along at highway speeds, re-engaging if necessary. At the same time, the coasting mode helps recharge the batteries.
On the whole, the Panamera S E-Hybrid drives like you’d expect any other Panamera to, which is to say, quite well. It’s heavier and a touch less concerned with ultimate sportiness, but it’s still a Porsche, and that engineering and tuning knowledge shows through; if you’re after a plug-in hybrid with real all-electric capabilities that doesn’t compromise on luxury or features, while also being rather quick, yet seating four in comfort, the Panamera S E-Hybrid should be at the top of your list.
For the tech-connected, there’s even a new Porsche Car Connect app, which offers standard connectivity and functionality with the S E-Hybrid (it’s optional on other Panameras). With the app, drivers can remotely monitor charge status or remaining driving range, set a charge timer to charge from the wall at cheaper electricity rates, and remotely activate the climate control to pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin. It can even remember where you parked.
In the dash, a Power Meter replaces the traditional tachometer and can display a variety of information about the hybrid system’s function, including driving range in both efficiency and sport modes; on-the-fly power distribution and recuperation; and activation points of the internal combustion engine when the driver requests more power. Additional information can be found in the center-mounted screen via the Porsche Communication Management system.
The S E-Hybrid arrives in the U.S. later this year at a starting price of $99,000.
This article, written by Nelson Ireson, was originally published on Green Car Reports, a publishing partner of Popular Science. Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.
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2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
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Every January, thousands of press and industry members flock to Las Vegas to the latest in technology and gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show. And while we rave about the innovation and the nifty concepts that companies show off, they don’t always end up coming to fruition.
So while CES 2024 is in full swing, we’re looking back to 2014 to run down our top picks from last year’s show and see which ones have delivered and which ones are still on their way or have disappeared from the scene altogether.
This compact desktop computer was aimed at gaming enthusiasts, and good news: you can order one right now, customized precisely to your liking. But though one of its touted capabilities was support for Valve’s SteamOS, the gaming-optimized operating system is still not ready for primetime, so you’ll have to stick with Linux or Windows for now.
Horizon 2 Multimode Table PC
Wouldn’t it be cool if your coffee table was also a computer? That was the promise of Leonovo’s Horizon 2, the second in its line of desktop computers that can also lie flat, tablet-style. The machine went on sale last summer in the $1500 range, and got decent reviews, though the tabletop mode is perhaps a little bit on the gimmicky side.
RealSense 3D Camera
Cameras are always popular, and Intel’s tiny unit—designed to fit into laptops and allow for sensing in three-dimensional space, à la Microsoft’s Kinect—is no exception. It uses a combination of a traditional camera, infrared camera, and infrared laser projector to detect 22 points of motion and translate that into software. This tech is just coming to market; it’s been integrated into tablets like the Dell Venue 8 7000 and laptops like the Acer Aspire V 17 Nitro, which go on sale this month.
Sony promised to make getting games even easier with its PlayStation Now game-streaming and rental service, unveiled last year. The system was in a lengthy beta for most of the last year, but just this week Sony announced that it would be offering much more affordable monthly subscriptions to the service starting later this month. (Previously, you had to pay a steep-ish fee to rent a single game for a week.)
Biometric security is all the rage these days, and at CES 2014 Myris announced its eyeLock iris-scanner. At $280, it’s more affordable than a professional-grade solution, but you get what you pay for: reviews have been less than positive, citing slow performance, an unwieldy corded connection, and incompatibilities. But there’s always the next version to look forward to.
It seems as though 2024 may be the year curved screens start really catching on, but LG may have been ahead of the game with its G Flex smartphone. The phone ultimately got mixed reviews, with the curved screen proving not particularly compelling and the price tag a bit too high—but that hasn’t dissuaded the industry from continuing the march on curved screens. Perhaps the LG G Flex was simply…ahead of the curve?
MiniDrones Rolling Spider
Everything gets smaller, including drones. Parrot, no stranger to flying robots, expanded its offerings last year to include a $100 compact model that can climb walls as well as soar in the heavens. The downside, of course, is that its small size translates to limited battery life, meaning shorter excursions, and a less powerful camera. But overall, its reception has been towards the positive side.
Cosmos 90GT WiFi Telescope
This $400 WiFi-enabled telescope was aimed at those upgrading their stargazing experience, and from what we can tell, it accomplished that mission. While a little pricey for the casual astronomer, its app integration seems to set it apart from the conventional telescope crowd.
We admired the sci-fi nature of this gadget, which purports to collect health information about your body, including temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and more—all by sticking it to your forehead. Sounds a little crazy—and maybe it is, because the device hasn’t yet appeared, though Scanadu says it’s planning to ship by the end of January. But we’ll have to wait to see if it is, in fact, just what the doctor ordered.
Not unlike the Weebles of yore, this $100 robot’s key selling feature is that it can actually maintain its balance. Packed with games and apps, the MiP is controllable from a smartphone, and that seems to be how to get the most out of it. But folks seem pretty pleased with what it offers, especially for the budget price.
Sport Quattro Laserlight
Laser headlights—that kind of says it all, right? To be fair, this Audi invention shown off last year is a concept, so it’s not likely to make it to the market anytime soon—if ever. Still, Audi built the technology into its cars for the annual 24-hour Le Mans road race, and it came in both first and second place. We’re not saying that the company used its lasers to shoot down the competition…but we’re also not not saying that.
What’s better than an electric car? An electric car that drives itself. This automated golf-cart-sized shuttle can go up to 12.5 mph and avoid obstacles, delivering you to the destination you’ve chosen on a touchscreen. Though tests are being carried out around the world, the Navya probably still isn’t coming to an airport or theme park near you for a while yet.
Our recommended blogs that every retail and E-commerce professional should be following to use the latest innovations and grow their sales General E-commerce sites
The E-commerce Times News Network. We start here since this is the Granddaddy; some of us remember it from the dot-com boom days of 1998 when it focused on tech stories, and it’s still running. These days it’s really broad, covering retail marketing techniques, but it’s still got the latest on tech issues like security and payment.
Digital Commerce 360
. This may be a new publisher to you, even if you’ve worked in E-commerce for a long time. The reason is that the venerable Internet Retailer (IR) has recently rebranded. As before, it’s US focused and covers developments by the main marketplaces and in different sectors.
Internet retailing. The similarly named Internet Retailing focuses more on UK and European suppliers and examples, with the latest merger and acquisition news on European providers. It doesn’t tend to have so much analysis on practical best practices these days (plenty of these examples to follow).
Econsultancy. Like Smart Insights this blog covers a range of sectors but recognizes the importance of retail and E-commerce, with examples of best practices in this sector.
Smart Insights E-commerce marketing strategy channel. We’re well-qualified to write about this one. Our focus across the whole blog is on digital strategy and optimization. It’s perhaps no surprise, given our name, that we also share compilations of KPIs on performance benchmarks that are of interest to retailers, such as Desktop vs mobile E-commerce conversion rates.
Many of the best sites on getting better results from E-commerce are from vendors. Here’s our pick.
Practical Ecommerce blog. We naturally thought of this blog first in this section. It’s been around, nearly as long as the E-commerce Times. We like its main channels which are Marketing, Conversion, Management, and Design and Development. Be warned though that some of the articles can be quite thin and aren’t necessarily specifically on E-commerce specific issues.
Shopify blog. This is a well-known E-commerce platform and well regarded practical blog for retailers to learn from. Naturally, it does tend to focus on smaller SMB retail topics and examples of using its own platform.
Big Commerce. This is one of our favourite blogs on this list. The reason? In-depth content on retail growth strategies, with examples. Its categories tick all the boxes of the topics that matter: E-commerce design, E-commerce marketing, how to sell online, online payments, and shipping and fulfillment.
Practicology blog. We’re recommending this since it has a firm focus on retail improvements, from a consultancy specializing on E-commerce.
Blue Leaf blog. This is another specialist, in this case a design and platform implementation vendor. They have relatively few blog articles; instead, here I’m recommending them for their quarterly ‘Inspiring Great Retail’ series, available in print, which we find useful for examples of the latest trends.Operations-focused blogs on cross-border commerce, marketplaces, payment and fulfillment
PayU blog. As an alternative payments provider, PayU naturally covers the topic of payments, with a strong focus on best practices for cross-border eCommerce. (Note that PayU is a content partner of Smart Insights and commissioned us to compile this round-up, but all viewpoints are our own.)
E-commerce Expo Insights. This blog covers topics from one of the largest European events on E-commerce, including payment, fulfillment, and marketing.
Flex E blog. With discussion and examples of the latest models in fulfillment, this blog focuses on the US market.
Tamebay. This blog has intelligence and news for all businesses and business people who want to improve their use of online marketplaces.Stories to inspire start-up retail entrepreneurs
In this final short section, we look at a different type of blog which is more personal since they’re from owners of businesses explaining how they have grown them.
E-commerce Fuel. Different from many of the other blogs we have featured, E-commerce Fuel is described as a ‘private community for 6 and 7 Figure store owners’. It also has a blog covering how to manage the growth of SMB E-commerce blogs.
A Better Lemonade Stand. This blog has a nice domain name and in-depth articles with strategies owners can use to grow their retail store.
2024 Porsche Macan Review: The average edition of a stellar SUV
Volume sales are the lifeblood of any automaker seeking to rise above niche status, and Porsche has done a commendable job in courting bigger numbers by way of the larger Cayenne SUV, the Panamera sedan, and the previous versions of the Macan. Each of these models, while stepping far outside the lines penciled in by the brand-defining 911 sports car, are titans of speed and handling in their respective classes, and have found an enormous audience.
The four-cylinder Macan is something a little different. Luxury brands always have access to one simple strategy when it comes to tapping into the unreserved lust for the prestige associated with their image, and that’s lowering the price of their offerings to the point where the badge is within reach of a new segment of the market. To do this, however, often means stripping down part of the package being offered, to both protect the reputation of pricier models and, more practically, to keep profits healthy.
It’s this strategy that has guided the development of the 2023 Porsche Macan (no S, no Turbo, just Macan on the rear deck), a vehicle that for all intents and purposes matches the Macan S for equipment everywhere but in the engine bay. For the latter, the drop-off is precipitous: in place of the 340 horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, there’s now a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s good for 252 ponies. Torque is also down, although not by as much, with the four-cylinder’s 273 lb-ft showing as 66 lb-ft lower than the Macan S.
Get into the throttle hard, however, and it’s more difficult to sing the Macan’s praises. Acceleration – both off the line and on the highway – is average at best, perfectly acceptable for the vehicle’s $47,800 price point but a far cry from the ‘wow, is this really happening in an SUV?’ sensation delivered by the V6 in the Macan S. Perhaps it’s because I was so wowed by the S experience (which in turn is bested by both the Macan GTS’ 360 horsepower and the Macan Turbo’s 3.6-liter, 400 horsepower mill) that the four-cylinder felt like such a let-down. Trying to move just under 4,000 lbs with a pair of cylinders missing also likely had something to do with it, and although the engine feels somewhat livelier when the vehicle’s driving mode is set to Sport+, you’re still hovering just over six seconds for the sprint to 60-mph.
Expectations can greatly affect one’s impression of anything, and such was the case during my time with the Porsche Macan. The turbo four did everything I asked it to do – transported a relatively large load of gear on a long highway trip with surprisingly little hassle, handled nasty spring weather with aplomb, caught the eye of would-be Porsche owners window-shopping through their windshields – but at no point did it put a smile on my face. This was a stark contrast to Macan S, which regularly had me shaking my head in disbelief at just how outstanding its drivetrain felt in nearly every driving situation.
That the new 2023 Porsche Macan will be a smash hit is almost certain, with an early sales mix indicating nearly 40 percent of customers opting for the turbo four. Its combination of attractive pricing, brand prestige, and excellent handling make it a compelling choice when facing off against less expensive, but more subdued European and Japanese luxury fare. It also proves that performance as a concept is important to premium SUV shoppers, but not necessarily on an individual, product-by-product basis, as long as some of that shine rubs off on the ride home.
Is it the Macan you should buy? If you care about bridging the gap from good to great, I’d say it’s well worth it to kick in the extra $7k or so it takes to get behind the wheel of the much more interesting Macan S. Let’s be honest – you’re not leaving the dealership with anything short of a $60,000 hole in your pocket once you’ve got the SUV configured to your liking. Earmark a sizable chunk of that lump sum for the engine and you’ll amplify your enjoyment behind the wheel by an order of magnitude.
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Five years ago, the first mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (ILCs) were introduced with the hope that they could compete with larger, more expensive digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs). They couldn’t. Since then, manufacturers have been grinding away on the technology, adding bigger imaging sensors and better lenses. This year, Sony introduced a ILC that not only goes toe-to-toe with DSLRs on quality (at almost half the weight) but also does some things even better, namely shooting at night.
The α7S is the first camera—DSLR or otherwise—that can capture images in almost complete darkness. It has a full-frame sensor that’s only 12.3 megapixels—about half the typical pixel density. The lower density allows for larger pixels that can capture more light. Because the camera body is a trim 1.9 inches, the sensor sits closer to the lens, which also permits light from oblique angles. In the end, the α7S boasts a peak sensitivity of ISO 409,600, which means that photographing a moonlit beach is as simple as point and shoot. $2,500 (body only)
A phone that protects your data
Over the past year, we’ve learned the hard way that our cellular networks aren’t all that secure. As data vulnerabilities become a greater concern, people will demand better protection. The hypersecure Blackphone ensures that all communications remain private when being transmitted to and from the device. The phone runs on PrivatOS, a custom version of Android. In conjunction with an app suite, it can encrypt calls and texts—as well as enable private Web browsing and cloud storage. Messages and calls have unique encryption keys, so only the sender and recipient can decode each one. $629 (includes one year of service)
An unbreakable display
Kyocera Sapphire Shield
A cracked screen is the curse of our technologically dependent lifestyle. A recent survey found that one out of every four iPhones will suffer that indignity. This year, Kyocera debuted a display that’s virtually indestructible. The Sapphire Shield is made from lab-synthesized sapphire, one of the hardest materials on Earth. The screen can survive a fall from twice the height that regular glass can. In addition, it’s nearly impossible to scratch.
The first rollable screen
LG Display Flexible OLED
Long have we lived with the promise of truly flexible displays, and long have the nuances of material design kept it from becoming reality. Earlier this year, LG introduced the first large-size mass-producible flexible OLED display. Thanks in part to a bendable polyimide film (instead of hard plastic) on the back-plane panel, the 18-inch high-resolution screen can roll into a one-inch-wide tube. The company expects to develop an ultra-HD flexible monitor that’s greater than 60 inches by 2023.
A network for indoor navigation
iBeacon, Apple’s new communication tool, brings locational awareness indoors. Unlike GPS, which typically requires an unobstructed path between the device and satellite, the platform relies on small Bluetooth modules that identify people’s proximity in a given location inside or out. The beacons can then push tailored content (such as exhibit notes in museums or coupons in a store) directly to smartphones. Developers have already built hundreds of applications, including one that lets fans order concessions in baseball stadiums and another that guides blind passengers through the San Francisco airport.
Office furniture that keeps you moving
Stir Kinetic Desk
Standing for part of the day can prolong a person’s life. Yet more than half of sit-to-stand office desks never leave the sitting position. The Kinetic Desk prompts users to move more frequently. A user programs the desired percentage of daily sitting and standing time on a touchscreen, and the desk takes over. When it’s time for a shift, the desk will signal the user with a nudge, which he or she can accept or deny by tapping the screen. Over time, the desk learns patterns—say, a preference to stand after lunch—and tweaks the schedule accordingly. $3,890
The final platform
Q&A: Jeremy Bailenson On Virtual Reality
Few understand the promise and pitfalls of virtual reality (VR) better than Jeremy Bailenson. In 2003, he founded Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, and he’s since counseled Facebook, Samsung, and others on VR strategies. To Bailenson, VR’s potential far exceeds today’s applications. The platform will become the most important one ever.
Popular Science: Big technology brands are racing toward VR, but is there a market for it?
Jeremy Bailenson: Yes. People love media. Everybody’s buying bigger TVs and playing more immersive video games, using systems like the Wii and Kinect. At the same time, the success of social media shows that people like interacting with virtual others.
PS: What makes VR so different from the platforms we’re used to?
JB: When VR is done right, there is no interface. The way you walk up to something is by walking; the way you make eye contact with someone is by moving your eyes. VR produces the exact perceptual phenomenon you have moving around the world. When I’m using a mouse, I know I’m using it. When you’re in VR, you forget there’s a medium. ** PS: Videogames, telepresence, and movies are the most cited VR applications, but how else might we use it?**
JB: Say an insurance company wants to train people to avoid accidents. You’d never want to train them by making them have a physical accident, but VR can give them a lesson so real they’ll never [forget it]. Weight-loss companies can teach people to maintain their diets by showing them versions of their ideal self. Owners of sports teams want to implement VR into their training.
PS: Those are all positive results. Is there a potential dark side?
JB: Some experiments have shown that when violent videogames become more immersive, the transfer of violent thoughts and aggressive behavior is amplified. I try to steer the conversation as much as I can to make results more positive than negative. I’ve tried to urge Oculus, as the company makes videogames, to think about adding public service announcements, like on TV. What if every time you played a game, you’d have to learn about the environment for 30 seconds to get to the next level?
PS: Some of your studies address lofty ideas, like using VR to promote environmental conservation. What do you say to the nonbelievers?
JB: I can put up graphs until you’re blue in the face, but in the lab, it’s different. I give a tree-sawing demo to groups, and the person inside the demo always looks at me wide-eyed. Imagine if I forced you to take a chainsaw, go to Yosemite National Park, and cut down a beautiful redwood tree. That would be something that would stick with you.
Popular Science: How do you vet moonshot ideas?
Astro Teller: We probably look at 1,000 ideas, for a few hours each, for every self-driving-car project we end up with. So it depends on where the project’s Achilles’ heels are. If it has only one Achilles’ heel, it can take a long time to find it. If it has many, you can find one quickly.PS: Give me an example.
AT: Yesterday I was in a room with 30 people discussing a potential new project, and they were pitching their hearts out. And frankly, they had me excited. The idea had to do with the ocean. And they were telling me why it was going to be important. Eventually I said: “Look, I’ll give you three choices: Between sharks, storms, and pirates, which is the most likely to kill this project?” Everyone started laughing—not because I was kidding, but because that question sounds funny and yet was totally appropriate. I didn’t want to find out in a year from now this idea wasn’t going to work because of pirates.PS: What was the idea?
AT: I can’t tell you. And I realize that’s why we’re often painted as a secretive organization. But that’s not our intention. I want to be able to kill projects as fast as possible with as little emotional baggage as possible. One of the rate-limiting issues of innovation is that people have a hard time killing their projects. So the more we are publicly committed to a project, the harder it becomes for us to kill it. If I tell you we’re making a space elevator or an anti-gravity machine, and then next week we find a flaw in the idea, people would resist ending the project partly because the public has gotten excited about it. So it’s not that we don’t want to share it with the public. We just want to be sure of our thesis before taking victory laps.PS: Skeptics and Google’s own investors say these projects take too long and that they’re too future-forward. How do you respond?
AT: I’m not even sure what that means, “too future-forward.” That sounds like a compliment, not an insult. Our goal is not to produce immediate results. We’ve been tasked by Google with producing long-term results. Like all other parts of Google, we are held to the standard of producing value. But we still aspire to a strong return on investment. We don’t take on Google Glass or the self-driving-car project or Project Loon unless we think that on a risk-adjusted basis, it’s worth Google’s money. But that’s different from saying we have to produce liquid value by today or it’s all worthless. That’s not the spirit of long-term bets.PS: What are you most proud of?
AT: It’s not any one project. It’s the factory. Our goal is to make a moonshot factory, to systematize innovation in an efficient and productive way— and to kill things when we have to. The truth is that most companies end up littered with a huge number of un-killed projects because there isn’t the culture in place, the belief structure in place that allows those projects to get ended quickly. Two days ago, we killed the largest project we’ve worked on here. It’s been going for more than two years and had 20-some people working on it.PS: What was it?
AT: I can’t tell you. It was an unannounced project. And it’s good that we didn’t announce it, for exactly the reason I said [laughs].How Astro Teller Became Captain of Moonshots
1992 Graduated Stanford University with bachelor’s in computer science
1993 Graduated Stanford University with master’s in symbolic computation
1998 Graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with PH.D. in artificial intelligence
1999 Founded BodyMedia, a fitness tech startup
2004 Graduated from Stanford University School of Business
2008 Founded Cerebellum Capital, a hedge fund
2010 Became director of Google[x]
This article was originally published in the October 2024 issue of Popular Science.
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