How Porsche will be integrated into VW, by Georg Kacher

Published: 20 November 2009

Although Porsche won't be a fully integrated member of the Volkswagen group before mid-2011, the sports car maker can even at this early point in the merger no longer make independent strategic decisions. After all, Martin Winterkorn has effectively been appointed head of the Porsche SE Holding which in turn employs the Porsche AG chairman Michael Macht. 

With a takeover as costly and complicated to fund as this one – all in all, VW will have to fork out a staggering €16 billion to absorb the latest family member – it is only logical that the new owner wants to get the restructuring process going asap.

Overnight, Porsche has become easily VW's most expensive brand.

How VW will integrate Porsche

To protect and eventually enhance its value, the powers in Wolfsburg will leave no stone unturned to rearrange the product portfolio, to streamline R&D, to shake up purchasing and production, and to ensure a variety of synergies which are estimated to range from €500m to €750m per year.

To protect the iconic new acquisition, Porsche will be put in charge of certain key engineering projects which are bound to involve other nameplates to generate additional volume and to cut cost.

Says a voice from the top: 'It would be foolish not to explore the Porsche know-how, expertise and sports car leadership. It would be foolish not to let them mastermind what they are best at. But it would be equally foolish to peg future growth on overweight and oversize four-door Porsches.'

Sounds like a fundamental review of Porsche's model line-up?

At this early stage in the consolidation process, the corporate strategists continue asking fundamental questions. Like whether SUVs and crossovers will in 10 years' time still be compatible with the Porsche brand. Like which products might be best suited to double the production output from 75,000 to 150,000 units. And like how to define, market and sustain the premium lean and green sportiness Porsche must stand for in the future.

According to more than one company insider, the Swabians will from now on work closely with Audi which is the group's biggest cash cow by a country mile. Together, both brands will develop new technologies, materials and processes.

Audi and Porsche will be the key players within the group's freshly established MSS framework, short for Modular Sports Car System, a
matrix conceived for future high-performance vehicles. In this scenario, the two partners would jointly create a new mid-engined coupé/roadster known internally as Audi R4/Porsche 356, the next Q5 and the Cayenne replacement.

So big Audis and Porsches will be jointly developed as well?

You bet. And other brands further afield in the Volkswagen empire may be thrown into the mix too. Imagine a common aluminium-intensive multi-material spaceframe architecture for the Panamera II, the small-volume Lamborghini Estoque luxury sports saloon and the follow-up to the A7 Sportback.

Long-term, even Boxster and 911 are bound to become full-time MSS members. The only models excluded from the common components concept under Wolfsburg's current plans are low-volume halo models like the next Murcielago, any Bugatti or the still unconfirmed Porsche supercar destined to replace the Carrera GT.

A future 911 on an Audi platform! Whatever next?

Speaking of the next 911 dubbed 991, rumour has it that messieurs Winterkorn and Piech were not totally convinced when they recently saw the production-ready design exercise for the first time.

The new chiefs demanded, among other things, substantial changes to the front and rear ends – a move which would delay the introduction by three to six months to model year 2012. Somewhat miffed and obviously demotivated, the Porsche design and engineering squad pointed out that the required alterations will invariably deliver a serious blow to the budget.

Quipped Piech, allegedly: 'This may be the case. But it's our money which is at stake, not yours.'

>> How do you think Porsche should be integrated into VW? Click 'Add your comment' and have your say

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel