Lutz Meschke, head of finance and IT at Porsche, has outlined the brand’s strategy for autonomous vehicles, driver assistance and other technologies.
In an interview published on the company’s corporate website, Meschke said “digitalisation and autonomous driving [should be seen] not as a threat but as a tremendous opportunity” for the sports car brand.
This is particularly true for automated parking and semi-autonomous traffic jam assistance, which “will soon be ‘must haves'”, especially for more family-oriented vehicles, such as the Cayenne crossover, Panamera sedan and the upcoming all-electric Mission E.
For sports car models Porsche could one day offer a “Mark Webber function”, where the car will drive itself autonomously around a race track like the Nurburgring, following the same braking, acceleration and steering inputs as the Australian driver would.
This feature could show the owner how to approach the course on a demonstration lap, and teach or prompts them when they’re behind the wheel. Naturally, the system wouldn’t be limited to laps from Webber if it eventuates – given Porsche has relationships with the likes of Walter Rohrl, it would be a waste not to include a few different options.
Meschke is enthusiastic about driver assistance technology, but says Porsche will be “one of the last automobiles with a steering wheel”, and “driving yourself will hopefully remain the most important thing at Porsche for a very long time”.
Although the company has thus far prioritised traditional vehicle development, it is now investing heavily in technology and services, not just to keep up with the automotive ‘Joneses’, but also to increase profits.
This will be driven primarily through new over-the-air services, such as in-car purchasing of track insurance, which is already offered in some models.
In the future, for example, Porsche could offer paid downloadable upgrades that could add new features, such as dynamic headlight functionality, or a few extra kilowatts for a track day.