"There won’t be a Volks-Porsche"
Is Porsche still a sports car or a luxury car? Matthias Muller would have one about the envy of sports car drivers, annoying speed limits, new four-cylinder engines and models like the Macan SUV.
The world: Today, someone who is reasonable and correct and behaves as inconspicuously as possible is considered virtuous. Even Porsche is propagating a certain modesty with its new hybrid models at the IAA. The auto world threatens to lose its luster, Mr. Muller?
Matthias Muller: I don’t think so, but Porsche doesn’t create the framework conditions, the politicians are responsible for that. The legal provisions for lowering CO2 values are there, we cannot escape them. Now we have to see that we can find the right answers. It is important to us that the fun factor does not suffer. This is why cars such as the Panamera S E-Hybrid and now the 918 Spyder, which is a super sports car and meets ecological requirements, are created.
The world: Porsche drivers have to piss off the Greens’ plans, which call for a coupling of the vehicle tax to CO2 values and a general tightening of the speed limits. Who will want a Porsche if they are not allowed to drive it out??
Muller: We see it calmly. We sell a large part of our cars abroad. There are already many speed limits. We try to offer our customers opportunities to push their vehicles to their limits on special routes.
The world: Would you personally touch the introduction of a speed limit?
Muller: I think a general speed limit is wrong. Whether you have more or less accidents or more or less gasoline consumption does not have to have anything to do with the speed limit. On the one hand, this shows the accident statistics away from highways, and on the other hand, petrol can also be wasted with inefficient engines.
The world: Why do Porsche drivers still arouse envy and resentment?
Muller: My perception is that, unlike other sports car brands, we are not doing that at the moment. Porsche drivers are socially accepted: According to a recent survey, around two thirds of German drivers dream of a Porsche. Our vehicles will not offend you anywhere. On the other hand, they offer its owner the opportunity to stand out through its sportiness and elegance, in everyday life and on the racetrack. They are very versatile. Take the 911, which you can take to the bakery in the morning or take two small children to school in the back seat. In the evening you can drive up to the opera in the same car.
The world: "The 911 is superfluous luxury" – that was what one of your predecessors at Porsche, Ernst Fuhrmann, said himself.
Muller: That has to be revised today. A Porsche is like expensive watches or shoes; people treat themselves to something, they want to be rewarded.
The world: Is the Macan, a small SUV brother of the Cayenne, which will premiere in Los Angeles in November, also an expression of new modesty at Porsche?
Muller: We have found that compact SUVs have the fastest growth rates in the world. We don’t just want to watch. We want to reinterpret the segment. The Macan will be a typical Porsche.
The world: It is created on the platform of the Audi Q5. In doing so, you are disputing the territory of your sister company. How difficult is it to stand out from the family of brands?
Muller: We coordinate carefully. We don’t use the Q5 platform one-to-one, we only use individual components. With all-wheel drive, for example, we have our own technology. We know very well what the characteristics of a Porsche are: above all, design and dynamic driving characteristics. We stand out because we are clearly sporty. And if our sister company Bentley should offer an SUV that is even more elaborate, bigger and therefore more expensive than the Porsche Cayenne, then we have no problem with that either.
The world: What else will the Macan offer to stand out??
Muller: The Macan will have an extremely interesting design and, when it comes to driving pleasure, offer prospective customers everything they can expect from a Porsche, simply pure emotion.
The world: Who should buy the Macan?
Muller: The one who cannot transport family and sports equipment with the Boxster or Cayman. People who cannot find what they imagine sportiness and dynamism to be among our competitors. And those who are willing to pay a little more for these properties.
The world: The BMW X3 costs around 30,000 euros, the Q5 around 10,000 euros more, the Macan, like the Boxster, should cost just under 50,000 euros. Do you want to drive against German premium manufacturers with the Macan??
Muller: First and foremost, we do not focus on the competition, but on the wishes of our customers.
The world: Macan stands for tiger in Indonesian. Who comes up with a name like that??
Muller: Many people deal with this for many weeks, after which countless legal questions still have to be clarified.
The world: How does he pronounce himself correctly?
The world: It is said that Porsche is developing a kind of Volks-Porsche for less than 40,000 euros.
Muller: We discussed it, but then refrained from it. We make sure that we don’t damage the brand, because our regular customers have a certain conception of Porsche. That’s why there won’t be a Volks-Porsche. But that does not mean that we will do without smaller engines. We can also offer boxer four-cylinder in the Boxster and Cayman. With these supercharging engines, we exceed the performance of the previous units and also make a contribution to compliance with the CO2 limits.
The world: With the Panamera and the Cayenne, the brand has also opened up to the luxury segment, plus smaller engines. Is Porsche still a sports car brand?
Muller: Both are also sports cars for me, just in a different format. The Panamera is more like a sedan, the Cayenne an SUV. But these are always the sportiest offers in their segment.
The world: How does Porsche want to position itself without a new series?
Muller: We have completely different options: We are well positioned with the Boxster, Cayman, 911, Cayenne, Panamera and, in the future, the Macan as well. This already works wonderfully with the 911, where we have around 20 derivatives. My goal is to transfer this idea to the other model series.
The world: If there won’t be a Volks-Porsche: When will the super sports car with a combustion engine come and when will you please Ferrari and Lamborghini fans, for whom even the most powerful 911 has too little horsepower? The price range is wide between the most expensive 911 for around 200,000 euros and the 918 Spyder for 765,000 euros.
Muller: First of all, with the 918 Spyder, we are offering a model that is superior to the competition and that the entire Porsche team can be proud of. In due course we will then decide how to close the gap to the 911.
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