Currently reading: How to design an electric car, according to Porsche design boss
Porsche's Michael Mauer talks about the challenges of designing an electric car over a conventional one

The perceived wisdom goes that electric cars provide a blank canvas when it comes to car design, given that there’s no engine to define the whole packaging set-up.

Not so, according to Porsche design boss Michael Mauer.

“It is the packaging that defines the architecture of a car,” he said. “Passengers, luggage space, legal requirements – this defines the architecture of the car by as much as 70%,” leaving 30% for the designer’s pen.

When entering new sectors with the Porsche Panamera, Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Macan, Porsche has unashamedly looked to the 911 when it comes to design inspiration. The Mission E concept showed another way, particularly at the front end, although from the side profile and rear, it looked every bit the futuristic four-seat, four-door 911.

Mission E primed for 2020 launch 

Porsche mission e 2017 cover 0

How far to push the styling, then, with an electric car? “With pure styling, you have to give an answer to how far you go with the design language to visualise the technology,” said Mauer.

“It would be nice to have a crystal ball to see what customers expect... When designing a Cayenne or a 911, you need people to see it’s a new model but still a Porsche. With an EV, you should see it’s new technology but you do steps with the change of design. Customers should have the opportunity to digest the new elements.

“Go too far and you lose them. They’re used to a design for 20, 30 years. You see on the market, one company went very far [BMW], others less so. Customers love the product, but it’s all about the brand. People will buy an EV Porsche as it’s beautiful but also because it has a Porsche badge. It needs to be recognisable as a Porsche but have electric elements. It’s a balance.”

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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comment8 20 November 2017

Brand Trumps

A change of headlight graphics does not amount to much. The aftermarket look of the Porsche little squares is not particularly elegant and the elephant ear cut from headlight make one think surpisingly of elephants not lithe or lissom sports cars. Unfortuntately the excess of the Cayenne are now as much part of the brands visual DNA as the 911. Not a pleasent job for Mr Mauer.

Ubberfrancis44 20 November 2017


So they now perfectly well their costumer base wants a very good sound and performance car, so keep electrification away from the 911 as long as possible, clever.

Obviously they will try to sell this as a luxury commuter car for their costumers and hopefully they bite because of the badge.

manicm 20 November 2017

It's a copout. The Bangle era

It's a copout. The Bangle era 6 and Z4 cars were brilliantly designed.

BMW have admitted the current 6 was too conservative and heavy, and to my eyes an ugly boulevard cruiser. Indeed in UK they've already pulled out the coupé, leaving the cabriolet and Gran Coupé.