Porsche North America CEO: Porsches will always have a steering wheel and pedals

Porsche InnoDrive System

Porsche drivers want it all. So says Porsche North America CEO Klaus Zellmer. When it comes to self-driving cars, that means Porsche drivers want to hand off the driving when it’s tedious and take it back when it’s fun.

At Rennsport Reunion VI last month, Zellmer told that autonomous driving systems have their use.

“All these assistance systems help you in certain traffic situations to give away some of the burden of driving, and there are certain traffic situations where it’s just not enjoyable. Our take rates for (adaptive) cruise control are just as high as any other car brand, and that’s why in certain traffic situations, our customers will want that car to take them home without engaging personally,” Zellmer said.

That doesn’t mean that Porsche will offer a completely autonomous car, a so-called Level 5 car that can do all the driving for you without the need for pedals or a steering wheel. Instead, Porsche will let the car take over when the driver doesn’t want to drive, but the driver will always have the option to pilot the car.

“Our plan is to always have the steering wheel and always have the pedals and potentially to even have the manual gearbox to really engage with the car and to do it all yourself. But, our customers always want it all. They want the possibility to use autonomous drive mode but they want to really engage with the car as well,” Zellmer said.

Thus far, Porsche offers Innodrive, which uses GPS data and vehicle sensors to determine the appropriate speed for a corner and slow the car to that speed while the driver does the steering. It can take some of the fun out of cornering, and isn’t offered for the 911 or 718.

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However, as part of Volkswagen Group, Porsche also has access to the work Audi has been doing on self-driving cars, which includes a Level 3 system that can drive itself in some situations but still requires a driver.

It appears that future Porsches could go to Level 3 and Level 4 systems when the driver chooses, but the driver will also have the option of being involved.

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