In five years, the Porsche 911 as we know it will seem “unique,” says North American CEO
Last week, we had the chance to speak with Porsche North America CEO Klaus Zellmer about a charity auction for the final 991-generation Porsche 911, a historic-liveried Speedster. During that conversation, he hinted at big changes ahead for the Porsche 911, and he reflected back on the 991 generation with a fascinating perspective about its place in the model lineage.
“I think the 991 will be a lot more significant in the future—when we look back. We knew when we changed over from the air-cooled 993 to the water-cooled 996 that it was a milestone by definition. We knew when we changed over to the 991 generation it would not be naturally aspirated anymore—all turbocharged except for the GT model line—and that it was a game-changer. It was changing something from the past.
“The 991, however, [is still available] so late in a phase where we are transitioning into completely new drivetrains and powertrains going forward. You know that by 2025 our overall lineup will be 50 percent electrified, either as a plug-in hybrid or as a battery-electric vehicle. We are transitioning, actually in short time, almost abruptly, into new technology driven by its availability and its fit with the Porsche brand. And that transition will mean changes for the 911—I can’t tell you what the next generation after the 992 will look like, but I can say that when we look back in five years at the 991, and the 992, we might say ‘wow, that car with that technology was actually really unique for its time.’ It will prove its historical value in retrospect. The transition time is so compressed with new technology and the need to make radical changes, we are looking at cars coming out now that might be truly unique in five years.”
The 991-generation 911, launched for the 2012 model year, will surely be remembered as the first generation in which the standard Carrera models were turbocharged. According to Zellmer’s hints, however, it also might be the final 911 series without any form of electrification. We already know that the latest 992 generation has been designed to accommodate an electric motor to facilitate a potential 911 hybrid, but Porsche has made no clear commitment concerning when that will happen. While Porsche intends to continue building combustion engines (especially the flat-six) for as long it can, an all-electric 911 at some point in the next 10 years seems exceedingly likely.
Change is coming fast, which means those of us who love today’s sports cars as they are should take a moment to look around and appreciate how good we have it. Electrification does not by any means signal the end of car culture, but the automotive landscape as we know it is on the cusp of a major shift.