Dr Manfred Braeunl, CEO at Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE, speaks about the new Taycan launch and the brand vision in line with the evolving automobile industry
Porsche has been revving up the automobile industry in the last 70 years with a consistent best-in-class driving experience by manufacturing exclusive sports cars, and regional CEO Dr Manfred Braeunl, states that this is aligned with its overall strategy to secure brand desirability and customer satisfaction, irrespective of the challenge.
Braeunl, whose journey began as its vice-president of marketing at Porsche China Motors, currently leads a professional team of 57 that supports Porsche's operations across 21 countries, and work hand-in-hand with 22 importers and 65 Porsche facilities spread across the GCC, Levant, India and Africa.
"We have initiated a project called 'PMEReloaded' where we look at specific markets in our region, discuss their potential and develop targeted strategies for the short- and mid-term. Every day, we need to be proactive and aim to stay ahead of the game," he said.
The crucial thing is to try and anticipate changes and implement plans that allow short-notice adaptations.
"We want to be seen as an inspirational brand by everyone. I challenge the team to try new things, not only for our customers, but also for Porsche fans. People should always think of Porsche as a brand true to its heritage and design DNA, and a brand that is constantly releasing innovative products, campaigns and activities," Braeunl added.
Taycan - Porsche's first EV
Taycan is an exciting new chapter for the Porsche brand. Its first fully electric sports car is highly sporty, innovative and emotionally charged, which embody the values of a true Porsche.
"It features unmistakable design delivered in the highest Porsche quality and produces an incredible performance. The Taycan Turbo S generates up to 761 hp and roars from 0 to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds - the same as the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, a purebred sports car," said Braeunl.
True to Porsche's DNA, the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Taycan is developed for the racetrack, setting new standards for longitudinal and lateral performance. It also has a generous driving range that allows for long journeys, and it can be charged both quickly and conveniently.
"We will be introducing the Taycan Turbo and Taycan Turbo S first, both of which are at the cutting edge of Porsche E-Performance and are among the most powerful production models in the range. They will be followed by other variants at a later stage," he said.
One for the future
The production of Taycan is an investment into Porsche's future, according to Braeunl. By 2020, Porsche will invest more than ?6 billion in electric mobility, targeting both plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles, including the Taycan. To date, the company has invested ?700 million in new production facilities alone, based at the historic Zuffenhausen site in Stuttgart, the heart and soul of the Porsche brand.
"Over the next few years, Porsche will invest a further ?600 million into the production facility in the northwest of Leipzig. Here, the next generation of the Macan, which will also be available as an electric variation, will be produced, laying the foundations for further growth and the production of future models," he said.
Moreover, at least ?1 billion has been allocated for the electrification and hybridisation of the existing product range, and additional ?700 million is assigned for new technologies, charging infrastructure and smart mobility. By the second quarter of 2020, around 2,000 new employees will have been hired in Zuffenhausen alone for the production of the Taycan, demonstrating that electromobility is generating employment at Porsche.
The Taycan is an industry game-changer for several reasons. Firstly, its electric powertrains have the highest power density available on the market today, making it the first electric production vehicle ever powered by 800 volts rather than 400. That alone boosts the battery's charging speed, meaning it takes just 22.5 minutes to jump from five per cent charge to 80 per cent. It is also the first EV in the world that features a two-speed transmission, allowing for breathtaking acceleration and unrivalled continuous maximum speed. Additionally, the Turbo S has a range of up to 450km on a single charge, can generate 761hp, and accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds - proving that it truly is a sports car at heart.
"Porsche did not just bring out its first all-electric car, it also manages to stand out within the range. The Taycan has the lowest drag co-efficient and the lowest centre of gravity in the entire Porsche model line-up. It feels like a true Porsche sports car and is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any driver. To me, there is no question that the Taycan sets us apart from our competitors," said Braeunl.
Speaking about E-Performance, Braeunl highlights sports cars of the future - plug-in hybrids or fully electric vehicles - which are entirely uncompromising with an overall concept that combines maximum driving pleasure, sophisticated charging infrastructure and pioneering connectivity.
"E-Performance is characterised by the features that have always been decisive for any Porsche and are embedded in our DNA - performance, driving dynamics, emotion and quality. Our cars are not simply another electrified premium vehicle. They are undoubtedly a Porsche, even if they are more digital, and of course more electric, than any Porsche that came before," said the CEO.
The core of Porsche E-Performance is the car, and in line with that, its plug-in hybrid technology aims to fulfil two exacting demands at the same time.
"First, it must reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Second, it must push the driver into the seat, just as you would expect of any Porsche. We put a consistently high torque and dynamic response across a particularly wide engine speed range, meaning that behind the wheel there's even greater performance at the push of a button than ever. To me, that's pushes adrenaline levels to a new maximum," Braeunl added.
Exploring the Middle East region
According to the CEO, the Taycan has reeled in notable interest among customers and Porsche enthusiasts across the Middle East, along with a positive set of media reviews.
"We believe the Taycan will appeal to a wide range of potential buyers in this part of the world, due to the fact that it's the benchmark in its segment and a Porsche through and through. It's a four-door, four-seater sports car at heart, complete with an ultra-modern design that still manages to retain the historical elegance that defines Porsche's DNA. It's a car that is powerful yet clean.
"Worldwide, we've had around 30,000 people of different nationalities, age and gender put down a deposit to buy the car, simply because they think it's a great product. The UAE is the most progressive market in the region when it comes to electromobility, with its already well-established charging infrastructure and further concrete plans for even wider network," he said.
Braeunl emphasises that to truly understand the driving ability of the Taycan, one should personally get behind the wheel.
"Only then can you appreciate the sheer pleasure and benefits of a fully electric drive. I've been lucky enough to drive myself and have to say the driving performance of this model is simply amazing and in some instances one might think you are on rails rather on the road. You quickly develop great confidence when taking corners because its chassis is so well adapted. It's an all-wheel drive sports saloon with the same acceleration like a 911 GT2 RS. Simply put, it's a phenomenal sports car," he added.
Evolution and innovation
With fast-paced transformations taking place in the automotive world, more changes are expected in the next decade, compared to the course of the last 100 years.
"Ten years ago, no one would have believed that Porsche would become one of the first brands to present a truly electric sports car. Now look where we are!" Braeunl added.
Just like any other industry, Porsche believes the brand needs to be adaptable and innovative in order to remain on top, which is what led to the inception of its first hybrid.
"Everyone knew the brand as a sports car producer, and sports cars have forever been synonymous with combustion engines. But we disproved this misconception when Porsche launched the Cayenne S Hybrid in 2011, the first production hybrid in the history of the brand," he said.
As Porsche faces global competition in the field of innovation, Braeunl said that the brand is determined to remain on the offensive.
"It takes courage to make changes and pave our own way to the future. For a company like Porsche, it is important to always think from the point of view of the customer. We need to match our customers' desires as closely as possible. Yes, our hybrid and electric product portfolio is growing but I personally also hope combustion engines have a future for many years to come," he said.
With this in mind, Porsche's strategy is based on a three-pronged approach that incorporates optimised combustion engines, plug-in hybrid models and purely electric sports cars.
"Porsche will continue with petrol engines, plus its successful hybrid offers, for the next decade and beyond. But, we stay true to what we know best - building performance sports cars for the road and for the track," Braeunl concluded.
Investment by 2020, targeting both plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles
New employees to be hired in Zuffenhausen alone for the production of the Taycan
Is the power generated by the Taycan Turbo S with its twin electric motors
Porsche facilities spread across the GCC, Levant, India and Africa as of 2019