Today, Porsche makes more four-doors than sports cars. Is it becoming a company that makes sports cars on the side?
From my point of view, the core business is sports cars, which have to (fit) into the image of the brand. But to earn money it’s necessary to also deliver cars in other segments…but it is very important in these segments that Porsche shall have the most sporty car. If we get into the SUV segment, we should have the most sporty SUV…fast, powerful, steering, braking — everything. I think it is necessary for our customers to see I have a Porsche and not a badge on a Q5 or something else. It has to be a Porsche. That is important to us.
We are walking on the edge. On one hand sports cars, but on the other hand other segments — but very sporty — to increase revenue and volume.
How will your plans affect production?
The problem of Porsche today is we have in Zuffenhausen the Carrera, the Cayman, and the Boxster. And their life cycles are very close together, so this means we have a start of production within 18 months and we have end of production within 18 months. The life cycle in terms of volume (drops as a car gets older), so at the end of the day we have a problem with our workers. We have to change our life cycling, we have to give them a gap to have three curves and to straighten out the volume over a life cycle of seven years.
My target is to have a life cycle for the whole company, the whole brand, with a result that means we should have every year one big product event and a lot of smaller events. Today, we have four or five products, but together with the ‘Cajun’ (an Audi-based, sub-Cayenne SUV) and together maybe with the ‘550’ we have six and we are looking for a seventh model and then we could have every year one huge event and one bigger facelift. Then we have one and a half huge events, and some smaller events.
What about the Boxster/Cayman and 911, which are so closely linked in terms of production?
They always told me that the strategy of parts sharing will only work if the SOPs (for Start of Production) are near together. But I cannot understand that because, in the Volkswagen Group, we have had that question for ages with a lot of brands, with Seat, with Audi, with Sköda, with Volkswagen and so on, and we controlled it.
Is there any segment that’s off the table?
Of course, we are looking at a smaller sports car, below the Boxster. I always was very keen to take a close look at the 550, and I can imagine to have such a car in a few years. And we are really successful with the Targa in the Carrera segment, and why should a Targa not work on a Boxster? So I can imagine to have a Targa in the Boxster. Another question could be whether the Panamera is only one model?
Do I hear a new 928 in the offing?
Our engineers have a lot of ideas.
You have assembly lines in Zuffenhausen and Leipzig, but how will Porsche build 200,000 cars? Will VW build Porsches?
The Volkswagen Group (is targeting) eleven million cars a year. With the capacity they have today, they can build seven to eight million…so they have to build new factories all over the world. At Porsche, we have limited production in Zuffenhausen and limited production in Leipzig — but we have a lot of ground in Leipzig. I could imagine having more volume from Leipzig. We have to decide where we (will) build the ‘Cajun,’ for example; it could be Ingolstadt, but at the end of the day we have to also look at Leipzig.
Are you any further along in your decisions regarding Formula One or LMP1 racing at Le Mans?
Nothing new. It is difficult because there are lots of pros, but also cons. I think LMP1 is a very interesting class. The only problem is Audi. It’s a question of whether it’s good for our group if there would be a second brand in Le Mans and the American Le Mans Series, which could be Porsche, of course. Okay, then we would have a competition against Audi. I don’t know if that is good or bad for the group.
The problem is we have a lot of brands, and we have (fewer options) all over the world — it’s only Dakar, WRC, F1, and LMP1. It’s only four classes, and we have ten brands. But with Formula One, if you are not the winner, you are the loser. To win in F1 costs a lot of money. And, in the end, it’s a driver championship — everybody says, ‘The champion is Vettel and he goes for Red Bull.’ And, in third place, they say, ‘Renault.’ Most people don’t know that Renault is the technical basis of the Red Bull team. And the races are boring…they go around and around. It’s absolutely boring. If you go to Le Mans, it’s exciting from the first to the last hour.