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Sun 19 Jan 2020 10:06 AM

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Driving change: Making electric cars part of the Porsche DNA

Dr Manfred Braeunl, CEO at Porsche Middle East & Africa, on the launch of the German carmaker's latest model, the Taycan

Driving change: Making electric cars part of the Porsche DNA

Dr Manfred Braeunl, CEO at Porsche Middle East & Africa

Tell us about your background and what brought you to Porsche’s office in Dubai?

I took the reins as CEO of Porsche Middle East and Africa almost a year ago, before which I was vice president of Marketing at Porsche China Motors. No two days have been the same – and long may that continue. This is what I love most about the industry I am working in – the constantly changing dynamics.

Ever since I can remember, I was fascinated by performance cars and knew from an early age that I wanted to spend my life around them. 25 years later, my passion remains as strong as ever, and I firmly believe this is down to what we continually do here at Porsche. We produce iconic sports cars, set new standards and always want the next thing to be better than the last. This is the spirit that drives Porsche forward and why I love being part of such an incredible brand.

Porsche is a brand with a strong brand recognition and legitimacy in luxury automotive – globally but especially here in the region. What is it that exerts such a powerful allure to customers?

More than 70 years ago, German engineer Ferdinand Porsche couldn’t find the sports car he was dreaming of, so decided to build it himself. That was in 1948, and the brand he founded hasn’t stopped delivering dream cars since, featuring benchmark-setting performance credentials for driving pleasure on the road and on the track.

Porsche always has been and always will remain a manufacturer of luxury sports cars, with the pleasure of driving at the very core of its mission. Our customers trust us on that and this certainly helps to uphold the allure. Particularly in this region, sports car enthusiasts value the bespoke customisation options that are available to make their car as unique as a fingerprint.

How long before petrol Porsches are consigned to history?

Personally, I hope combustion engines have a future for many years to come. There is something about turning the key and hearing that beautiful engine roar. In fact, our company’s strategy is based on a three-pronged approach, which 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.

No doubt, Porsche’s E-Performance strategy is a major part of our plans for the future, and our entry into Formula E is forming a big part of that story, as is the launch of the first fully electric Taycan in the region this year.

With Taycan, Porsche enters a new era, one that is increasingly seeing highly compelling electrical interpretations of vehicles. How has Porsche ensured that the DNA beloved by its fans is retained?

The Taycan is a culmination of 70 years of experience building sports cars, merged with incredible new driving technologies. From the start this model was infused with the “Porsche DNA”, which is the basis for every new development. It offers the Porsche-typical sports car feeling and driving performance, combined with everyday usability. The car is both exciting and modern, but with the ever-alluring Porsche feel and world-renowned design cues.

What are the main USPs of the Taycan?

The Taycan features unmistakable Porsche design and incredible performance. The Turbo S, for example, generates up to 761 hp and accelerates from 0-100 km/h in just 2.8 sec – the same as the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, a purebred, two-seater sports car. True to Porsche’s DNA, the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive model is developed for the racetrack, setting new standards for longitudinal and lateral performance. Last but not least, it has a generous driving range that allows for long journeys and can be charged both quickly and conveniently.

It is undoubtedly a game-changing vehicle and launch for 2020. What else can we expect from Porsche this year?

Introducing the Taycan as the benchmark model for electric sports cars to this region in the coming months is hugely exciting – with the considerable interest we’ve already received from our customers driving that even higher. To prepare its introduction, we will be running pre-launch activities and execute training initiatives to ensure our customers get the service they can expect from Porsche when they come to own it. Moreover, the year will also see the local arrival of the Panamera 10-Year Anniversary Edition, which is an exclusive version of our luxury saloon. We have many more exciting products and developments to come and as such I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.

How will cars such as Taycan be catered for here in terms of charging stations outside the immediate owner home?

Our customers have an average daily commute of 75 km. With a range of up to 450 km, the Porsche Taycan Turbo could potentially do the journey over a course of a week without the need to charge. Whilst the car is optimised for high-power charging, standard public charging stations will work just as well with the Taycan. Our importers are also working closely with a variety of locations, such as hotels and golf courses, across the region in order to expand the charging network for our customers.

In your role as regional CEO, what are your key objectives for the near future?

We will always focus on brand desirability and customer satisfaction as a priority, despite challenging market situations in some parts of our region. It is important to take a proactive approach and stay ahead of the game, in order to anticipate changes and implement plans that allow short-notice adaptations. I challenge the team to try new things, not only for our customers, but also for Porsche fans. We want to remain an inspirational brand to everyone in the region, including those who won’t buy a Porsche themselves.

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