Full Throttle: Kjell Gruner, CMO, Porsche

View from the inside

The automotive industry as a whole is undergoing the greatest transformation in its history. The global economy is becoming more volatile – and the Corona crisis is further exacerbating the situation. Porsche is not immune to these developments and the current framework remains extremely challenging.   

In Europe and in the US, we had to cope with significant losses in the first half of 2020. At the same time, we are optimistic that we will be able to partially compensate for these dips. Of course, this only applies if there are no further setbacks caused by the coronavirus. 

We are managing the crisis systematically and responsibly and see it as an opportunity. Our attractive new products – from the 911 Turbo to the Taycan electric sports car are giving us tailwind. We have set ourselves the target of investing 15 billion euros by 2025 in the development of our company. So even in the midst of corona, we are staying on full throttle when it comes to future topics such as electric mobility and digitization. 

In times like these, it is crucial to be customer-centric. At the beginning of the crisis, our customers were faced with a lot of uncertainty and had to stay at home. It was important for us to show understanding as well as empathy and do something to encourage them. This insight led to the #dreamsaremadeathome campaign on our social media channels. We asked customers simply to take a photo of their dream car in a garage and send it to us. More than 20 brands including BMW, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz came on board after a short while, and encouraged their own community to get involved. 

We maintained close contact with our customers even during the peak phase of the Corona crisis. Virtual customer consultations via live cam or contactless test drives were just as helpful as the many measures taken by our dealers. In summary, we can proudly say that we hardly lost any customers during this time, even during the peak phase of Corona. 

Consumer attention is clearly rotating elsewhere.

In our point of view, there are three success factors: good preparation, teamwork and speed. In addition to a positive basic attitude, self-confidence and calmness are important in times like these. During the Corona period, our crisis management team met every day and calmly organized the issues. If we would lose our heads in such situations, this would quickly spread to everyone else. The more critical a situation becomes, the calmer we should be. We take advantage of the situation and identify additional efficiency measures, while at the same time opening up further new growth areas. And of course, we acted very quickly and decisively as a team to put the necessary measures in place. 

Much like for other developments, this crisis accelerated underlying developments. In the world of brands, there is a clear shift from being product-centric towards contributing to our society. At Porsche, we started a project two years ago, that aimed at clearly defining a brand purpose and answering the fundamental question what our place in this new world would be. We at Porsche have found our formula: Driven by Dreams. As a brand, the place that we want to have in the hearts and the minds of our fans should be described with the feeling of making a dream come true.

Based on that attitude, it was obvious that we want to play an active part in overcoming this crisis. This resulted in the ‘Porsche helps’ program. For example, we supported the states of Baden-Württemberg and Saxony in the organization of crisis task forces, providing project managers and IT experts. In addition, we extensively increased our charity donations all over the world. We helped food banks with food supplies in Germany, for example. And we provided support to numerous hospitals and charitable organizations in the form of donations. On a personal level as well, many Porsche colleagues helped on a voluntary basis. The fundamental attitude is what matters to us: we want to help our community to make dreams come true – and of course, we stand by our community in times of crisis.

At Porsche, we have just launched one of the most significant cars in our history: the Taycan is the first fully electric sports car and a significant step in the further development of our brand. The Taycan will be spearheading a drive to electrification. Around 50 percent of all Porsche vehicles could be sold with a fully electric or hybrid drive by 2025. However, Porsche will always offer combustion engines, particularly in the 911. A primary task for the brand will be to cover this ambidexterity and remain clearly positioned and differentiated.  

Apart from that, we think that it is crucial to develop our brand in all facets. That comprises the offer of more flexible ownership models such as Porsche Drive Subscription, a further investment in community building and a continuous development of our customer touchpoints. In the last twelve months, we have not only trialed novel urban retail formats such as Porsche Studios but also ramped up online sales across the globe. This continuous progress across all aspects of the brand is crucial for the future success of our brand.