No rain, what snow: How Covid-19 has made Porsche change its road-test process
Like any other responsible car maker, Porsche extensively tested each of its new models in real-world conditions to check its capabilities, ascertain areas for possible improvements and gauge potential fault lines, if any. The real world, however, has changed significantly over the course of past several months and while testing vehicles remains every bit as crucial for Porsche, it has changed a whole lot of processes and brought in new parameters.
For starters, sanitizers, masks and gloves are more important than all else to ensure the safety of test drivers, engineers and all others involved with the testing process. Each unit is test driven by two engineers - each individually, which means the car needs to undergo a rigorous sanitization process when being swapped. And no high fives like before, of course.
Porsche says that its engineers swap cars every 45 minutes and this is crucial to test the car thoroughly in a wide variety of conditions and yet in a timely manner. But unlike before when Porsche cars were tested in varying climatic conditions, these are now doing the rounds in home conditions - Weissach and in the Black Forest. "The crisis forces us to be more flexible," says Marcel Honemann, head of testing at Porsche. "We are now test driving cars more on home turf."
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Honemann further explains that the health and well-being of all involved in the tests are of prime concern. And so, each car is sanitized completely once one single test is completed. This includes interiors as well as exteriors, especially the main touch points like steering and door handles. "Every one of us is aware of our responsibility to the others in the team," he says.
Fortunately for Porsche, the bulk of the testing for the new Panamera had been completed before Covid-19 became a pandemic. The car - codenamed G2 II - had been put to the test in varied climatic conditions and once the pandemic became a major concern, the remaining tests were shifted to home base. And in current times of crisis, testing new models may have become a more time-intensive job but Porsche believes to adapt is the best way forward.