Porsche boss steps up electric push – but is flexible on 911 and 718

Published: 23 March 2020

► CAR talks to Oliver Blume
► Porsche boss talks numbers
► Plus, what’s to come in future

Porsche expects half of its sales to be electrified within five years – but it’s a horses-for-courses approach for its sports car figureheads, the 911 and 718. The latest 992 generation of the 57-year-old, rear-engined icon is future-proofed to go hybrid in a few years, while the next 718 Cayman/Boxster may well be all-electric – the decision is still pending.

Porsche chairman Oliver Blume spoke to CAR following the firm’s annual press conference to discuss its 2019 results. ‘[Fifty per cent of sales] is a very realistic figure because of our electrification strategy, with Taycan, Taycan Cross Turismo and Macan,’ he said. ‘We can get to 50 per cent independently of 911 and 718 [going electric].’

That doesn’t mean there aren’t electrification plans for the sports cars. ‘The 911 we can combine with a hybrid, like we used in motorsport. The 919 won Le Mans three times and we can carry the concept over to 911 with a powerful hybrid version,’ Blume explained.

‘With 718 Cayman/Boxster we haven’t yet decided which direction we will go. We’re happy with the new six-cylinder GTS, Spyder and GT4. We still have a bit of time to decide to go further with those two-door sports cars. We’re working on different concepts and will take the decision this year.’ That suggests hybrid and pure electric versions of the 718 are currently on the table.

Taycan Cross Turismo

Porsche’s 2019 sales breakdown

The 718 Cayman/Boxster was by far Porsche’s lowest-selling range in 2019, with just 20,467 sales: almost 12 per cent of those were in the UK. The compact sports car segment is in serious decline, with Mercedes-Benz dropping the SLC and Audi phasing out the TT, and Toyota and BMW forced to collaborate to make the new Supra and Z4 viable. Blume’s view is that 718 volume is no cause for concern, and that it’s important for Porsche to have a mid-engined four-cylinder car alongside the 911 range, which sold 34,800 units last year.

Last year some 9 per cent of Porsches were electrified as Cayenne and Panamera hybrids, and this has been bolstered by 20,000 firm Taycan orders to date. Half of the customers drawn to the ballistic zero emissions sports car are new to the brand. ‘They are first movers, very interested in sustainability, innovation and digitalisation,’ says the CEO. And aside from being wealthy, they are also younger than Porsche’s traditional customer base.

Electric Macan in 2022

The second Porsche EV arrives this year, in the form of the Taycan with the Cross Turismo shooting brake bodystyle, before a pure electric Macan follows in 2022.

Macan rear quarter

This is based on the solely electric PPE platform, co-developed with Audi. It will be sold alongside an updated version of today’s Macan based on the VW Group’s MLB-Evo architecture, in which combustion engines will be hybridised. Blume suggests that the strategy of having distinct platforms for combustion-engined cars and for electric cars will continue for the next few years, but that may change depending on customer demand.

Porsche’s electrification plans explained

Porsche is ploughing €15 billion into electrification and digitalisation, but Blume didn’t reveal the budget for combustion engine development. ‘We will keep on investing in combustion engines, they are the core of Porsche – especially when looking at the 911.’ 

How did Porsche fare in 2019?

Porsche reaped a successful 2019 with sales up 10 per cent to 280,800 units, and an operating profit (before special items such as penalties for its Dieselgate role) of €4.4 billion (up 3 per cent). The Macan was the top-seller with almost 100,000 SUVs shipped, while the Cayenne contributed just over 92,000 units, with 15 per cent adopting the new coupe bodystyle. The other model in the range – the Panamera – found 32,000 new homes.

But 2020 presents a different picture entirely. ‘Now we are facing a huge challenge coming from the coronavirus crisis. We have decided to close our German factories for the next two weeks. It’s too early to make a concrete cost calculation [on the impact],’ said Blume.

Porsche Taycan factory

Porsche has sent workers home where possible, though engineering and prototype building continues. ‘We have not postponed any start of production yet, we will decide what happens step-by-step in the next few weeks. We will continue wherever possible,’ he vowed. Uncertain times, even for a company making a rock-solid 15 per cent margin on its €28 billion of sales.

Check out more CAR industry news here

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine