German automaker’s priority is geared towards electrification

The looming possibility of autonomous driving technology taking over the auto industry has put the onus on automakers to get it on the bandwagon or risk getting left behind. Most mainstream companies have taken the lure and have begun developing their own versions of the tech. But there are some brands that have resisted going down the same road for one reason or another. Porsche counts itself in this group as no less than the automaker’s own CEO, Oliver Blume, made it clear that the German company isn’t considering a full self-driving sports car or SUV anytime soon.

Speaking with Autocar, Oliver Blume was direct with his words, vowing that Porsche would not compromise its own performance DNA in pursuit of a technology that essentially takes away the thrill of driving a Porsche from the driver. At most, Blume is willing to consider using certain features of autonomous driving and combining it with “the classic Porsche genes” on future Porsche models.

The idea, according to Porsche’s number one, is to add certain autonomous driving features like traffic driving or self-parking into future Porsche models. These would allow drivers to spend less idle time inside their cars and let the vehicles perform these tasks for them. But as far as driving the cars on the open road, the German automaker is very clear in its stance that only a driver should be able to do it because enjoying the sheer performance of Porsche sports cars is exactly what owning a Porsche is all about. At the end of the day, Blume wants drivers and owners to still have a “real” Porsche in their hands.

On the flip side, Porsche is fully embracing electrification and is already gearing up for the development of the Mission-E. Previous reports have indicated that Porsche is even looking into building the Mission-E to be more than just one car, but a family of models that will all share the common characteristic of being electric cars.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

A tricky marriage for performance brands

Porsche’s approach on the issue is a sound way to navigate around a bigger problem that performance companies like Porsche face in the wake of the mass push to develop autonomous driving technology. It’s one thing for mass-produced mainstream cars to use self-driving technology because customers are unlikely to even bat an eyelash about it. But it’s another thing for performance companies, especially those like Porsche whose very existence and DNA is grounded on sheer performance.

It’s not that easy to jump straight into autonomous driving technology and remove that performance equation from the picture. That’s the issue here for Porsche and it’s not a surprise that its CEO has come out and made that statement. I’d actually be shocked if Oliver Blume said the opposite thing and openly embraced full autonomous driving. Now that would be surprising, maybe even shocking to the senses.

Remember, Ferrari said the same thing a few months ago when the scenario was presented to it. Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne even summarized his answer very clearly when asked about it. “Over my dead body” was what he said, and he’s absolutely on point about it. What’s the purpose of having a self-driving Ferrari if drivers won’t be able to enjoy the things – power, speed, thrills – that Ferrari is most famous for.

Ultimately, performance brands like Porsche will have to address how it plans to marry the inevitable push towards autonomous driving with its core performance DNA. The scenario that Blume laid out – use self-driving technology on certain situations – looks like a feasible plan that can be adopted through proper channels. I’m not saying that it’s something that Porsche should do, but it is a good way to recognize the importance of the technology while still keeping true to your core DNA.

One way or the other, companies like Porsche and Ferrari will have to address self-driving technology and the benefits it provides. They just have to do it while remaining fully aware of who they are as a brand.

Read our full review on the Porsche Mission E here.

Source: Autocar

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