Porsche Designs New Active Aero Tow Hitch

Scoop / 7 Comments

The German sports car maker firmly believes in improving the efficiency of every little detail.

The automotive world creates its own problems. SUVs were meant for hard work like towing and sports cars were meant to go fast, but as we've combined these two spheres into one, performance SUVs have had to get creative. Take, for example, the Aston Martin DBX707, which has a gargantuan rear diffuser made of carbon fiber to improve performance. But in the USA, that same Aston isn't rated for towing, as the available power deployable tow hitch is a single-size item and can't be swapped out for a larger tow ball as is needed in America. Retrofitting an aftermarket receiver will prove tricky because of the aforementioned diffuser. But Porsche thinks it has a way around such a conundrum.

Patent filings uncovered by CarBuzz and filed with both the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Deutsches Patent- und Markenanmt (DPMA) have revealed an active diffuser design and an automatically deployable tow hitch that could have big implications for performance SUVs and the aerodynamic efficiency of tow-rated EVs.

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USPTO
USPTO

The premise behind the design is simple, in that the rear diffuser is broken into several parts, all of which are active and can shift up and down as necessary. When needed, the entire diffuser tips downward, opening up a cavity in the rear of the vehicle to reveal a hidden tow hitch receiver that can then be drawn into place.

According to the patent documents, the diffuser flap fully opens when the vehicle is stationary to allow the tow hitch to be positioned, and thereafter, the diffuser returns to its original position, while the central element adjusts to a position pivoted slightly downward of its original position. This allows almost the full use of the diffuser in its default design. Porsche claims that this would improve the aerodynamic efficiency of a vehicle with a trailer attached.

USPTO
USPTO
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This might seem trivial, but in the age of efficiency (read: EV range is dependent on aerodynamics), drag created by a deployed tow hitch, especially where it leaves a gaping crevice in the underbody of the car creating excess drag, can negatively hamper efficiency and range. This patent also leaves the door open for active aero by which the diffuser flap can be adjusted incrementally to tailor airflow. This doesn't need to necessarily happen when a trailer is hitched, either, as the diffuser element can be moved in much the same way as an active rear wing.

The patent drawings themselves are relatively generic in design, but with the Porsche Macan EV already in development and the Taycan Cross Turismo being an almost ideal adventure EV for the modern elite, Porsche is bound to have multiple opportunities to put this concept into practice, perhaps along with some of its other active aero devices we've previously covered.

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