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.

 

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.