Saturday, March 12, 2011


What is a Porsche? The answer is obvious, but those running the company have willful amnesia. They are going down the road of General Motors. Like them, they will learn that their brand is not anything that they say it is.

For those who don't know, a Porsche is a reality based sports car built for Germany. You can contrast it with sports cars built in other countries. America's Corvette is the same, but built for the US, where gas prices have rarely been an issue. The great Italian sports cars are built for grand prix fantasies. Basically race cars with license plates, they are more suited to the track, but you can drive them legally on the street. British cars are also fantasy based. The motors are engineered for British weather, but the archetype style remains the roadster. What if the sun came out? Sometimes it does, and English drivers hammer their cars over green hills that match their British Racing Green paint. A Porsche is a two-seater coupe. You can drive it every day through German winters. The rear engine means that the weight is over the driving wheels for better traction through wet and icy weather. Air cooling meant that there was no water to freeze and break things. Water cooling has since improved, but simplicity and utility remain as the Porsche ideal. The company has three major problems:

  1. Pride. This is endemic to the German auto industry. Everyone else has standard parts. Porsches used to require a few special tools, but over the years, the entire country's industry has gone nova. It's a standard complaint that drives people away: Marque specific parts cost a fortune. It would be justified if some metric applied to cars were increased, but the plethora of such things does nothing for increased speed or reliability. An exasperated writer for Hemmings recently asked, "What next? BMW specific gasoline?" VW uses oil filters that are different from everyone else's. Porsche is the worst of all. The pursuit of difference with no measurable increase in utility needs to stop.
  2. The Panamera. This is not a Porsche. Porsches do not seat four.
  3. The Cayenne. See above. Also, I doubt that old Ferdinand dreamed of building a station wagon, then lifting it 50 feet in the air.
What needs to be done: The family in charge needs to figure out the difference between VW and Porsche. They also need to look at how other marques do things. For example, a handling package by Lotus is different from a Lotus. Marque specific parts must go. As it stands now, they do not show off German engineering. They just display the engineers' egos.

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