Porsche Says “No Thanks” To Self-Driving Cars


Porsche is different from virtually every other car maker in the world. Always has been, in fact. How many other companies can you think of that have staked their entire reputation on building a rear engine sports car?

Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe

Every car manufacturer in the world is racing ahead with plans to make self-driving cars. The theory is that autonomous cars will be safer than cars driven by human beings. Elon Musk says that within a decade, autonomous cars will be as common as elevators. He speculates further that one day humans will be banned from driving because they are too dangerous and too fallible to be allowed behind the wheel. Volvo says it wants to be making “death proof” cars by 2020.

Porsche CEO Oliver Blume says drivers want to drive their cars themselves. “An iPhone belongs in your pocket, not on the road,” Blume says, adding that Porsche does not need to team up with any big technology companies to install self-driving technology in its cars. “Partnerships are generally not a bad idea if one’s own competencies are insufficient. But we are…part of a strong company and…have no plans to lead the charge in this area. We’ll leave that to others,” Blume said.


One wonders if Blume is including such products as the Panamera sedan and Cayenne SUV in his remarks. Both cars seem ideally suited to self-driving technology in a way that a Porsche 911 Turbo S does not. Another piece of the Volkswagen automotive empire is also skeptical of autonomous driving system. Lamborghini openly doubts its customers will demand self-driving Aventadors any time soon.

The Boston Consulting Group estimates self-driving cars will account for 13% of the new car market by 10 year from now, according to Automotive News.  That equates to about $42 billion in sales. Porsche rivals BMW and Mercedes are moving ahead quickly to add autonomous driving features to their cars.

But Porsche, like all manufacturers, must appease regulators who are demanding more efficient cars with vastly reduced emissions. To do that, Porsche will  offer plug-in hybrid versions of all its models in the foreseeable future, Blume says, including the iconic 911. A plug-in 911 with about 30 miles of electric only range is scheduled to go on sale in 2018.

Porsche will also invest more than $1 billion in a new factory near Stuttgart to make the Mission E, its first all electric sports car. The car will have more than 600 horsepower and a range of over 300 miles. It is expected to go on sale by the end of the decade, but without autonomous driving capability, apparently.


About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Raphael Sturm

    I fully understand them, as long as its the 911, Boxter, or Cayman. Those are sports cars. The purpose of a sports car is the joy of driving.

    Cayenne/Panamera/Macan and probably Mission E customers are another story. Those are luxury cars and therefore should give the customer the luxury of not having tot drive it. But they once said, they will only build sports cars. Now they sell mostly SUVs, the anti sports car per definition, even if you smack big breaks to the oversized wheels and a powerful engine under the hood. And there are tons of other examples, like diesels, turbos, downsizing, water cooled engines and power steering. So Porsche isn’t really known for keeping promises.

    • Steve Hanley

      Correct on all counts! You WILL see an autonomous driving Panamera and Cayenne. I guaran-damn-tee it!

    • I disagree. Go drive a Panamera or a Macan and compare them to the cars the buyer is likely cross-shopping. The S class- even the BMWs have nothing on the Panamera, and a more high-belted, cramped, and stiff luxury car there has never been … all good things for the 4 door 928 it really is.

      • Raphael Sturm

        I test drove a Panamera diesel S once and it was a nice car, but not a real sports car. Maybe its different with the top products, but most Panameras are sold to dentists, not sports car drivers and they like tech as much as everyone else. Its ok that the car can be driven sporty, but they have a long wheelbase model, which means that they acknowledged that there might be customers that prefer the back seat.

        • “Dentists, not sports car drivers …”

          Um, who do you think buys sports cars?

          • Raphael Sturm

            Dentists :-), at least the Porsche ones, thats why a 911 is a far nicer place to be in, than a Corvette.

  • AaronD12

    Eventually (probably not in my lifetime) all vehicles will be autonomous. Never say never, Porsche.

    • I really, really hope you are wrong. A more thoroughly conceived Hell I could not imagine.

      • Steve Hanley

        Be that as it may, Saint Elon says self driving cars will be as common as elevators in 10 years or so.

        All the more reason why I will be buried in my Miata!

      • Rick Danger

        I would like to think that, on (non-holiday) weekends, cities could open it up and take off the autonomous requirement, but right now, most rush hours in most cities are a pretty good imitation of “thoroughly conceived Hell.” 🙂

  • kvleeuwen

    A self driving car will never think doing 150mph is safe, so Porsches will always have a manual override.

  • Al

    Autonomous driving is not a completely either-or proposition. Look at some youtube videos of tesla autopilot kicking in and saving your butt when someone accidentally swerves into your lane or tries to cut you on left turn when they are supposed to yield. Human reaction times can never match that.

  • Per Inge Østmoen

    Do we really want self-driving cars?

    Will self-driving cars mean the end of highway fatalities?

    In the same way, one might ask:

    “Will the complete prohibition and confiscation of privately owned firearms mean the end of homicides by shooting?”

    “Will the act of mandatory surveillance of every minute in our life mean the end of domestic violence, rape, public violence, homicides and theft?”

    If technology so permits, it is always possible to mandate ever more prohibitions, restrictions and limitations on practically everything that might conceivably pose a risk to humans – and then the question of whether the act will mean the end of phenomena which we fear or dislike will increasingly be a moot one.

    The point is that if the aim is “zero tolerance” towards traffic accidents and casualties, homicides or fatalities from children falling down from trees in the kindergarten, people will have to realize that those who give up more and more of their choices and possibilities in order to gain (an illusory) safety will lose both
    their freedoms and the safety. If self-driving cars are to function optimally the whole traffic must be structured around a complete prevention of people driving their own vehicles – including four-wheel cars and motorcycles.

    Thus, the discussion around self-driving cars is not about ending highway fatalities. It is about society’s capability of tolerating the presence of risks in everyday life. It is sometimes stated that self-driving cars are coming slowly but surely. That is wrong. The driverless cars, and the accompanying inevitable universal prohibition of manually driven cars in such a scenario, do not “come.” Rather, they are brought in by humans who are willing to sacrifize their abilities to drive a vehicle, their freedom to use their driver-controlled vehicle anytime, anywhere and with the use of their own senses and abilities.

    Yes, by all means manual driving with our own acquired abilities entails risks.

    To let children climb in trees entails risks.

    To permit people to own firearms entails risks.

    As a matter of fact, to permit people to procreate sexually also entails a lot of risks that might conceivably be ended if non-sexual reproduction became mandated by a government which had zero tolerance towards all the fatalities that result from the processes of conception, pregnancy and childbirth. Think about it; vast
    amounts of money would easily be saved if biological procreation and all the enormous hassle around it could be supplanted by hi-tech in laboratories. Yes, the conflicts between sexes could be brought to an end if the sexes themselves were eliminated. Orgasm can easily be achieved by artificially stimulating the pertinent parts of our nervous system, there could be an “orgasmatron” for that.

    Is this line of reasoning far-fetched? Hardly, it is no more far-fetched than it would be if someone argued for (or against) self-driving cars back in 1970.

    The force behind some people’s fascination with self-driving cars is precisely the same tendency as we see when children are denied their right to climb in trees because they might fall down and become injured, and when some people would like universal electronic surveillance by the state in order to put an end to crime. Every time, it is possible to defend a new restriction with the treacherous allure of putting an end to an unpleasant phenomenon or a danger – or some real or imaginary expense for that matter.

    Alas, maximum safety means minimum choice, minimum freedom. In other words the freedom, the choices and ultimately many of the things that enrich life and give us capabilities in our everyday life will be removed – but the complete safety will forever elude us in a living world. That is the way it is; like it or not.

    To conclude, the question is not whether one can end fatalities on the highway or for that matter anywhere else. The really important question is how far we are willing to go, and how many things we are wiling to deprive ourselves of in order to try to eliminate what we fear or dislike – or what is politically correct to remove at any given time.

    – Perhaps, just perhaps, it would be wiser to accept life’s risks.

    Per Inge Oestmoen, Norway

  • Per Inge Østmoen

    Some want self-driving cars.


    Where and when should the limitations, prohibitions, restrictions and control stop?

    There will never be enough restrictions and control, if we say that every measure that could save a life must be implemented.

    Self-driving cars may be a technologically fascinating idea, but self-driving cars would mean a monumental loss of freedom and loss of the possibility of choice. And that choice is of crucial importance on many areas in a living, challenging world.

    Self-driving cars are therefore symbolic of modern Man’s inability to accept and cope with the many and various challenges of Life.

    When government authorities attempt to force such scemes upon us, it demonstrates their inability to accept our freedom and our right to choose in our own lives. As responsible citizens and conscious individuals we ought to claim our freedom and our right to choose.

    Per Inge Oestmoen, Norway

    • Totally agree with you, Per.

      Plus, where is every cab driver or bus driver going to go?Will they be auto-paid after they are all sacked?Or its just not the topic, that there are more and more humans on this planet, but less and less jobs, and due computerizing everything around us?Ok, they can make the human a complete retard, who does nothing is fully controlled via modern tech, but at the same time people have trouble making a buck to put food on the table.

      So yes, I want my car.I want my manual transmission.I want to make my own choises and use my brain.

      And for the others – we have self-driven cars today, as we speak.There are called taxis, busses and public transport.One can even read, sleep, play on his phone or listen to music, whatever, while going to the chosen destination.Isnt it fascinating?