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Porsche Not Interested in L5 Driverless Cars, Deeply Focused on EVs

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【Summary】While the Porsche CEO seems firmly planted in his views about fully autonomous cars, he does see potential in semi-autonomous features. Blume explained that the company is interested in adding L2 and L3 driver assistance components to its future line of sports cars.

Michael Cheng    Dec 02, 2016 6:30 AM PT

Toyota President Akio Toyoda is not the only automotive leader to turn away from self-driving cars (he eventually came around and launched a full campaign to develop autonomous technology in 2015). Oliver Blume, Porsche CEO, is the latest influential leader in the auto industry to resist the imminent rise of fully autonomous (L5) vehicles.

During an interview with Autocar, the chief executive revealed that the German auto brand is simply not interested in L5 driverless sports cars or SUVs. Like Toyoda, Blume is a huge fan of the traditional, human-behind-the-wheel driving experience. This unique experience is what sets Porsche's offerings apart from other vehicles available in the market today. By letting robots do the driving in the future, he clarified that it will take away the thrill of driving a Porsche sports car – an experience many car enthusiasts simply can't get enough of.

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Semi-autonomous, For Now

While the Porsche CEO seems firmly planted in his views about fully autonomous cars, he does see potential in semi-autonomous features. Blume explained that the company is interested in adding L2 and L3 driver assistance components to its future line of luxury cars. Such features could include self-parking, traffic driving and next-generation adaptive cruise control (ACC).

This is where Porsche's number one draws the line. For driving on open roads, where drivers are "encouraged" to floor the gas pedal, let their hair down and wave their hands out the window to feel the oncoming breeze, Blume suggested that only humans should be in control. Comparing the two driving experiences, it is safe to conclude that the carmaker wants to automate the boring aspects of driving a car, while letting the driver get the most out of open-road driving.

"At the moment we do not think about a full version of robotic driving, we are thinking about features to combine with the real Porsche genes, so at the end you still have a real Porsche," said Blume.

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Porsche and EVs

Leaving the car manufacturer's fully autonomous dreams behind, Porsche is currently fixated on releasing electric vehicles (EVs) to the public. It is developing an EV that is expected to launch in 2020, called the Mission E, which is also the company's answer to the Tesla Model S. The car is expected to deliver a range of 310 miles per cycle with robust fast-charging capabilities (up to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes). Before the establishment releases the Mission E into the hands of environmentally-friendly drivers, it first has to build supporting infrastructure to tie the whole EV experience together. Porsche plans to build a network of fast-charging stations, rated 150kW (or higher), before 2020.

"Mission-E has our whole concentration at the moment. Today we don't even think about an electric 911. What will be in the future I don't know, but I think we will have co-existence for at least the next 10 years of real combustion engines and electric cars. It is a good idea for Porsche to retain the classic 911 and on the other hand have the Mission-E," highlighted Blume.

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