In an interview with DW, the chairman of Porsche's executive board, Oliver Blume, explains what distinguishes Chinese customers from Europeans and why the German luxury car maker isn't becoming too dependent on China.
DW: Mr. Blume, we're at the Auto China, arguably the most important auto show in the world for Porsche because China represents the largest single market. Is Porsche's growth story going to continue here?
Oliver Blume: We're very pleased with how the market has developed here in the last year. We sold over 58,000 vehicles. The first three months of this year were also excellent. With 23-percent growth, we have already sold more than 16,000 vehicles. We're assuming that this will continue.
Are Chinese willing to pay anything for a Porsche? Here, one must pay import tariffs of, say, around 100 percent on top of the sticker price.
We're lucky to have such a strong brand for Porsche. On top of that, we have excellent products that are also technologically sporty. Our customers in China are very special customers and they love our cars.
What distinguishes Porsche's customers in China from, say, those in Europe?
In China, we've noticed that customers are increasingly younger. Chinese customers are very tech savvy, an attribute that goes well with our range of products.
What do people associate with the 'Made in Germany' brand? Porsche still manufactures 100 percent of its cars in Germany - and not in China like some of your competition. What does Porsche associate with 'Made in Germany'?
We often hear from our Chinese customers that 'Made in Germany' is a very important selling point. Then there's always the fact that Porsche doesn't mass-produce its cars like other manufacturers do. So at the moment, there's no question of whether or not we're going to start assembling our cars in China.
The entire automotive industry - at least in Germany - has been shaken by VW's diesel emissions scandal. Have you noticed a reluctance among your customers to order diesel-powered Porsches?
We haven't noticed that at Porsche. All the more so because Porsche, of course, also has a strong gas-powered model there. At the moment, we don't perceive any negative resonance.
Do you believe this discussion about diesel engines will continue to influence drive technology?
I think there are a lot of other technologies that will affect the development of the automobile. In particular, there's electrification. For Porsche, this is a very important topic. That's why we're working to develop a fully electric model, the Mission E, which we unveiled last year in Frankfurt. We plan to introduce it to the market by the end of the decade.
What needs to be done to make electromobility so attractive for Porsche and its customers that electric vehicles are then bought en masse?
First, there's the product listing. In the future, an electric Porsche will be just as sporty as the Porsche of today. Another important point is the distance an electric vehicle can drive on a single charge. We expect that if we can offer a range of 500 kilometers [311 miles], then customers will be happy. On the other hand, there's also the charging time. Our goal is for it to take only 15 minutes to charge the vehicle to 80 percent of its full capacity.
Let's come back to the Chinese market. Meanwhile, it's Porsche's most important single market. Aren't you getting too dependent on China?`
At Porsche, we're lucky because we are well spread out around the world. About one-third of our business is done in Asia, one-third in the United States and the remaining third is in Europe and the rest of the world. This distribution makes it possible for Porsche to react flexibly to market fluctuations in different regions.
Oliver Blume is the chairman of the executive board at Porsche AG.