Porsche CEO Oliver Blume told the German press recently that Porsche drivers want to remain firmly in control at the wheel of their cars. “One wants to drive a Porsche by oneself,” Blume said in an interview with regional newspaper Westfalen-Blatt. “An iPhone belongs in your pocket, not on the road.
Blume added that Porsche did not need to team up with any big technology companies. “Partnerships are generally not a bad idea if one’s own competencies are insufficient. But we are…part of a strong company and…have no plans to lead the charge in this area. We’ll leave that to others,” he said.
Those others include German luxury car rivals Mercedes and BWM, each of which is moving forward with autonomous driving systems as quickly as possible.
Like Porsche, Lamborghini is part of the Volkswagen Group. Its management has also expressed skepticism about whether customers will accept a self driving version of its cars. The thinking is they will not.
However, Blume says to expect plug-in hybrid technology across Porsche’s entire product lineup, including the iconic 911. that car has been the standard bearer for the company since 1963. The plug-in model is due in showrooms in 2018 and is expected to offer drivers about 30 miles of all electric range.
Porsche’s head of engineering, Erhard Mossle has spoken publicly of how difficult it is to rework the 911 to accept an electric motor and a battery without losing its character as a sports car that makes no compromises. But upcoming emissions regulations in the European Union and elsewhere make it impossible for the 911 to do anything but add hybrid power.
Meanwhile, Porsche has committed to building a new factory near its headquarters in Stuttgart. It will build a production version of the Mission E concept, a 4 door electric sports car with 200 miles of range. That car will probably not be available for sale to customers until 2020 or beyond.
It makes sense to keep the 911, the Boxster and the Cayman unadulterated by self driving system, but it seems Blume will have a hard time keeping that technology out of upcoming versions of the Panamera and Cayenne. When that becomes standard on similar models from BMW and Mercedes, it will be very hard for Porsche not to cross the line it has drawn in the sand.