Taycan volumes seem disappointing with roughly 1,400 sold in the first quarter. Are you worried?
Because of our order books, I am not worried at all. Furthermore, the factory [in Zuffenhausen, near Stuttgart] was closed for six weeks, meaning global demand is now clearly outpacing supply and leading to long wait times, especially in the U.S. Since we restarted the factory, we have not only reached the daily output level that we had planned before the crisis, we are still ramping up Taycan production.
Porsche collected 30,000 deposits for the Taycan before you started selling the car. Half of those deposits were converted into orders. What happened to the other 15,000? Did these customers cancel because of the six-figure price?
Intentionally, we employed a top-down strategy with the Turbo and Turbo S. Our dropout rate was minimal. This suggests the other depositors are waiting for lower priced versions. I cannot say, however, when these will launch globally.
How many Taycan buyers are already Porsche customers? Are they swapping their current Porsche for the Taycan or keeping both?
Roughly half are customers who have never owned a Porsche. Many of them are young. The other half already have a Porsche in the garage, and most are adding the Taycan rather than making a trade-in for one. This indicates that our new EV has gained acceptance among our traditional clientele.
Could you foresee bringing back diesel powertrains if they are made cleaner and more efficient than gasoline?
We are investing roughly 15 billion euros over the next five years into electromobility, digitalization and sustainable production. For a small company such as Porsche, it’s clear we need to prioritize and focus efforts on our core strengths. Consequently, we won’t reconsider this decision.
How many customers left Porsche when you discontinued sales of diesel models?
We might have lost some in markets such as Spain or Italy, but overall we were able to more than offset those losses. Since our exit from diesel, sales have continued to grow thanks to models such as the the plug-in hybrid versions of the Panamera and Cayenne.
Porsche will soon open its eighth experience center, which will be in Italy. Have these centers provided a return on your investment?
Using two of the centers that I know particularly well, which are Atlanta and Los Angeles, we were able to attract more than 440,000 people since we opened them. Those two are absolutely breaking even in terms of cost and revenue.
What benefit do you gain from your Porsche Studios?
They are meant to welcome and provide great experiences for people and spark interest in the brand. We must ensure Porsche remains relevant to the younger demographics. To create relevance you need proximity. Dealerships should remain the final destination.
How much of a role will online sales play in the future?
By 2025, we might see 25 percent of our customers using digital channels either to start, continue or complete the transaction online. We want dealers to spend as little time as possible filling out paperwork. That way they can concentrate on providing training, service and an emotional experience when the car is finally delivered to the customer.
Your U.S. subscription model Porsche Drive Subscription (formerly Porsche Passport) allows users to switch between various models for a monthly fee. Will we see this in Europe?
This pilot has offered the brand access to entirely new customers that I don’t think we would have gained without it. We are looking at this for Europe as well, because we believe there is a market. Porsche Drive will be the umbrella term for new mobility services such as these subscription models.
Can Porsche credibly offer a full-electric 911 given its identity is so closely connected to its unique rear-mounted, flat-six engine configuration?
Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. The 911 is an icon and the center of gravity for the brand. We will keep this alive as long as we can, because we will be able to meet the fleet CO2 targets on our own. This is one reason why the Taycan is so important. It is the first real sports car in the electric vehicle segment and it helps maintain the viability of the 911.
Sustainability is a word people don’t associate with Porsche, but it is now a strategic pillar of your midterm strategy. Do you have to push your customers in this direction or are they the ones pushing you?
Both. The Porsche brand is still the first motivation for someone to buy a 911 or a Cayenne. To ensure that Porsche remains desirable in the future, we have started to look more deeply into the idea of purpose. Younger consumers want to know what contribution you make to society. If we don’t have a proper answer, we risk losing relevance with this key demographic.