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Auto blogWed, 04 Jun 2014 14:58:00 EST
You might think that sports cars would have the lowest drag coefficient of all cars. And yes, they do tend to be more slippery than, say, SUVs or convertibles, but the sleekest vehicles on the road tend to be EVs, hybrids and luxury sedans. Sports cars, on the other hand, have aerodynamically detrimental needs for downforce and additional engine cooling. Still, the Porsche 911 is better than most, and has only gotten more so over the years. Its relatively narrow track and compact form mean it has a smaller frontal area than some other sports cars, and the gradual sweeping back of its headlights and windshield have only augmented its capacity for cheating the wind.
This 911 prototype, however, is even more aerodynamic than most. It's based on a "G model" 911 from 1984, but employed such features as covered wheels, a new rear spoiler and a reprofiled front end to drop its drag coefficient from 0.40 to 0.27, making it as slippery as a modern sedan and better at cheating the wind than just about anything built up to that point, save for maybe the Tatra 77, Citroën SM or Tucker Torpedo.
Elements of this prototype ended up gradually making it into production Porsches for years to come, and you can clearly see early influences on the second-generation 964 and even on the 959. It's featured here as the latest installment in a video series on rare historic Porsches unearthed from the company archives, following previous clips that featured a rare V8-powered 911 and a mid-engined 911 prototype. Scope out the latest episode in the video below.
Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking (left in the above photo) could potentially be facing some time in the slammer after all. The last we had heard, he and former Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter (right) had avoided a trial in April due to a lack of evidence. However, an appeals court in Stuttgart has looked at the case again and overruled the earlier decision, finding that the executives should be tried for share manipulation during Porsche's failed attempt to take over Volkswagen in 2008, Bloomberg reports.
The judges in the appeal "list numerous indications that could suggest that there was a hidden decision to increase the stake as they could suggest the opposite evaluation by the lower court," said Stefan Schueler, a spokesperson for the court, in a statement cited by Bloomberg. Wiedeking and Haerter put out their own releases saying that there was no merit to the charges.
The prosecutors allege that Wiedeking and Haerter had a plan to buy up VW stock options in 2008 to take the automotive giant over but hid it from investors. The whole thing was a massive failure and eventually allowed VW the chance to acquire Porsche and forced the two execs to step down. In addition to the criminal investigation, hedge funds have attempted to sue the company multiple times in civil court for the same reason, but they have repeatedly failed.
According to research conducted by global information company IHS Automotive, the leporine birthing of new models by luxury manufacturers over the past six years hasn't increased their market share in the US. Even as car sales reached 15.6 million units, IHS says what's happened instead is that luxury buyers are merely moving from one brand to another, moving from larger luxury vehicles into hot segments like compact luxury crossovers or leaving the market at the same rate as other buyers enter.
Whether broken out by makes or by segment, market share has rollercoastered inside a narrow band from 10.5 to 11.5 percent since "at least" 2008. Closer investigation reveals the shifting boundaries in the aspirational pond, with brands like Mercedes-Benz and Audi gaining territory as Lexus and Lincoln lost it, and Saab and Hummer were buried, dead, under it. One neat note is that Tesla has gone from a share of zip to .12 percent.
The subcompact and compact crossover segments show growth, with those little high-riders jumping from .3 percent to 1.16 percent of overall industry sales. Their rise, though, is concomitant with the decline of four other segments: compact and midsize cars and fullsize cars and SUVs. We think the next few years that will tell if the small-car expansion can overcome the large-car retraction, with a phalanx of smaller offerings like the CLA only recently hitting the market and others like the GLA, Macan and Q1 doing so in the near future.