The riveting question is how the 911 needs to develop in the future to continue to define the brand as the gravitational core of Porsche. Automotive industry megatrends, including digitalisation, electrification and connectivity, will play a role, as well as the question of how these trends should be evaluated.
"With each innovation, the decisive factor for me is whether it suits the character of the 911," explains Achleitner. "We don’t necessarily have to be the first in this regard with the 911. What’s crucial, rather, is that every innovation be offered in a typical Porsche manifestation."
Here, it’s the designers, above all, who are called on to work their magic, according to the 911 chief. The 996, for example, was the first to feature a navigation system. When Achleitner looks at this model today, he says he still finds it beautiful and elegant, although he has to admit that some elements strike him as a bit outdated now.
It’s important, he feels, to design digital interfaces between people and machines that are as timeless as possible. "Anything but contrived" is Achleitner’s creed.
He’s convinced: "Even where the public might be expecting a bigger ‘wow factor’, in the long run a certain aesthetic reserve pays dividends."
The visual packaging of new technologies is just one aspect. The other aspects involve the capabilities that they enable.
"Even when it comes to the individual assistance systems, they have to fit with the 911," says Achleitner. After all, no one buys a sports car because it offers adaptive cruise control or a lane-keeping assist function. "Those are convenient and useful things. But the customer has to make the choice to use them and be able to switch them off when they’re not desired."
One thing is especially important to him: the joy of driving always has to be in the foreground. "That’s why a 911 will always have a steering wheel." And if autonomously driving cars break through more quickly than expected? "Then the 911 will be one of the last cars to drive autonomously," he says.
BASTION OF STABILITY
In all discussions of autonomous driving, Achleitner hews to his line: Porsche and the 911 are a bastion of stability amid the hype, which heretofore has primarily consisted of mere announcements and statements. The 911 will not change radically — and yet it does evolve. It was 1997 when the era of air-cooled engines came to an end and the age of water-cooled flat-six engines began. It was 2015 when the last naturally aspirated engine in the rear of the Carrera was completely replaced by a turbo engine.