Interview: Dr. Frank Walliser

Also from Issue 216

  • A unique 1994 Turbo S “Package Car”
  • A dream carved from a '78 SC Targa
  • Time Capsule 959: the last one off the line
  • Buyer’s Guide: 1989–94 Type 964
  • Reader Sales Report: What's hot; what's not
  • 365: A faux Speedster that looks just right
  • Interview: Head of Porsche Motorsport
  • 914/6 #260: final off the production line
  • The “father of the Corvette” races a Porsche
  • Project 911 993 Part 2: The “expensive” gift
  • Minox Moments with Norbert Singer
Buy Excellence-216-cover
Interview: Dr. Frank Walliser 1
Interview: Dr. Frank Walliser 2

Dr. Walliser: It has a lot to do with, let me say, setting very general targets for the engineers working on it, so they have a clear orientation where to go. If the targets are too detailed, we lose the direction. So we said, on the driving modes we have a mode for the guys concentrating on the fuel consumption, another one for the guys on the Nürburgring, so everybody can work with their directions. And we have experienced people who have a certain feeling for how a Porsche should behave.

Excellence: What other developments would you consider major challenges?

Dr. Walliser: Number one, it’s a completely new car. Just the sheer number of new parts…besides some nuts and bolts, everything is really new: new engine, almost new gearbox, hybrid drivetrain, the battery, the chassis, the monocoque. This was a challenge in just three years. Integration of this hybrid drivetrain, having a high-voltage system, you have to always be sure that it’s safe. At the end of the day it’s really integration, that all systems work together. That was the major challenge. To give you an idea, just to simply stop the car—brake, and it stops—you need the four-wheel management, you need the ESP, you need the I-booster, the new braking system, you need the gearbox, you need the engine and the two electric modules. You have to record the sources of torque and the downshift, just to make the car stop. And sometimes you get a result and say, “Hey guys, you may get one shot a week [to improve it] and now we have to work step by step and make it smooth and good.”

Sometimes over the development, week by week, we’d detect things in the car, how they work, and we’d just understand how it’s supposed to end. It was a challenge, but if you have an experienced team like we have you will always find the solution.

Excellence: What was the easiest part of the process?

Dr. Walliser: Design. That sounds funny, but we had established the [design] concept for the project, and we felt our real challenge was to bring it out as fast as possible. We made decisions very fast, with a very direct connection among the staff. We’d discuss [an issue] and say, “Okay, let’s go in this direction.”

Of course, I reported to the Board on a regular basis to update them on the technical progress, but the design was set. We did not have a lot of influences from outside; we kept it really closed, trying hard not to make all the decisions in committees in order to keep the car really sharp and focused.

Connect with Excellence:   Facebook Twitter