“Then we discuss if some elements will stay as a product identity feature or if they will be lifted to the next level and become a brand identity. The light band is a very old feature from the 911, but to start with it did not have a function, it was just a band. Then on the all-wheel-drive version of the 911 we used it in combination with the lights to create a very strong feature at night.
“We decided that it was such a strong theme that we should take it to the next level and let it become Porsche brand identity. But even though it is now a theme, each and every new model will have its own little variation based on this theme to create product identity on top of this again.”
How much of a challenge is it to keep evolving a brand like Porsche?
“If you have a weak brand or even a brand doesn’t exist, you can just start from a clean sheet of paper and create a brand identity. You have all the freedom you can imagine but you don’t have any orientation.
“On the other hand, talking about Porsche, you have all this history, you have strong cars like the 911, so you have a lot of orientation, maybe sometimes too much – sometimes it is restricting. For me, I love both sides, but I like the fact that in Porsche we have this kind of evolutionary approach. I think we have proved over the years that we always find a way to evolve that doesn’t look retro. It always has this new, modern, fresh feel but still respects our history.
“For the first generation of Panamera there was no predecessor, but it would have been a big mistake not to use some of our very strong brand elements. We used quite a few and you can see this in the car at first glance.”
What is the reason for the move away from traditional buttons on the dashboard to using touch-sensitive flat panels?
“On the interior we have always been criticised for so many buttons, with some saying that it looks completely old fashioned, so one reason is that we wanted to make it look much more modern. The other reason is that in the new world of digitalisation we have more possibilities to combine functions and to partly take decisions away from the customer. There are buttons that you don’t need to push as often. We decided to stick to our logic, so you still have access to the function with just one push, but make it look much cleaner and modern.”
“The centrally mounted rev counter is probably the best example in the car to show how we are combining the modern world and the old world. It you look at its detailing, it is much richer and looks like an expensive watch. In combination with the digitial screens, it builds up a very nice tension. I think developments that are very extreme in one direction always create an opposite. This is Porsche’s way of combining its tradition with the future.”
How will Porsche design evolve as electric and hybrid models become more common?
“Our concept cars, such as the Mission E, give the first glance of how we can further develop traditional Porsche design cues but combine them with new elements. For example, if you take the topography of the front end of Mission E, the front wings are higher than the bonnet, but the car doesn’t have a conventional front light anymore. Instead, it is basically an air intake, because aerodynamics plays such an important role for electric cars. We try to combine traditional elements with new ones.”