Porsche not ready to abandon the steering wheel

2018 Porsche 911

2018 Porsche 911

The idea of a self-driving sports car seems like a ripe oxymoron, but even assisted self-driving could soon find its way to performance cars. Porsche won’t flip a switch to drop the ability to actually drive its cars, but the luxury and performance brand does recognize times are changing.

Porsche Vice President Lutz Meschke spoke about the brand’s self-driving-car future in an interview published Monday, and perhaps most importantly, he firmly believes customers will still want to drive a Porsche. He added Porsche will be “one of the last” brands to ditch the steering wheel for full self-driving capability. 

But, some elements of self-driving technology are appealing to Meschke. For instance, he said the ability for a Porsche to drive itself in a traffic jam or park itself when an owner is running late to a meeting or event is an attractive relationship between sports car and technology. The two features, in particular, will be “must haves,” the executive said.

He noted the need to invest in services and not just the vehicles themselves to ensure a prosperous future. One example is Porsche Passport, the brand’s car subscription service. In the future, Porsche might even provide one-time purchases or subscriptions for various vehicle updates, too. Meschke said a driver could pay for a quick horsepower update without needing to service the car, or access advanced technology at the spur of the moment with a one-time access fee—features like advanced headlights on an unlit road, for example. Or, perhaps an owner wants to improve their track-driving skills.

Porsche imagines a “Mark Webber” function that drives the car by itself and then teaches the driver how to improve based on Webber’s star driving abilities.

The executive didn’t offer any sort of time frame for the self-driving car revolution, but Porsche’s proactive measures will ensure an ecosystem where autonomy and driving can coexist.

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