Twice a year, Oliver Blume visits SA. Usually we know nothing about it. He flies to the Volkswagen Group test facility near Upington with a bunch of executives, drives some models under development and jets back to Germany.
This time, though, he stopped off in Johannesburg to officially announce the new Porsche Aftersales Technical Centre South Africa. You can read more about it elsewhere on this page. Blume was also kind enough to give us a few moments out of his busy schedule to talk about Porsche’s future.
That future, says Blume, will be “to have very modern cars. Very traditional cars, but also with very good technology. “We have to develop our model range on the one hand to go to the new technologies like electrification and digitisations, but on the other hand we will stay with our traditional, sporty cars — purist ones, with manual gearshifts,” he says.
“This is our strategy we will do for the next years.” Purists will be happy to hear the manual gearbox will live on, but in some cases this will be in special or limited-edition models, similar to the much-acclaimed 911R.
“We will expand our ideas on the GT series, but also on these special limited editions.”Then there is the brand’s new strategy, or rather its mission. In this case, the Mission-E, which after being revealed in concept form will be put into production by 2020.
“The Mission-E will come at the end of the decade,” says Blume. “For us it will be a big step to our future cars.” Some will be sceptical of the idea of an electric Porsche, but he says it is “important for us that full electric cars, for us, will be a real Porsche”.
He points out that various platforms will coexist for the next 10 to 15 years.
“In the future we will have a combination of full electric, plug-in hybrids and internal combustion vehicles.” Beyond that, will there be an autonomous, self-driving Porsche? “You should be able to drive, but the technology has some very interesting options,” he says. “For instance, when you are in a traffic jam, there is a possibility to be driven by your car while you read a newspaper.” Then you can arrive at a track or a mountain pass and take control once again. Blume is adamant that the company is covering all its options and that there is a clear future for performance and sports car manufacturers.
“It’s a big change we have in these times,” he says. “What’s important for us as a sports car maker is to make a transition from tradition to the future.” A big question is what the future holds for Porsche’s most iconic model, the 911.
“It will always be Porsche’s poster child. The tradition of Porsche is the 911. There can be, in the future, a very good co-existence between Mission-E and 911.”
Porsche has to move with the times, and while it is clear the company is committed to retaining traditional elements its customers demand, it is moving forward to ensure it is ready for a new era of motoring. Balancing all the elements will be tricky, but Blume and his team seem confident that however the company and its vehicles evolve, the spirit of Porsche will remain the same.
For us, it remains to be seen how true that is. After our chat, Blume headed off to Upington to put some of those future products to the test. He will now know whether his team is truly on the right track. – Mark Smyth (Pic: Porsche AG)