Steiner, how is Porsche approaching current trends such as autonomous driving and connectivity?
Michael Steiner: Innovations have played a fundamental role at Porsche since the very beginning, and that will remain the case in the future as well. That is the only way for us to keep customers fascinated. Electrification, digitization and connectivity are creating new challenges for the automotive industry. That is why we work continuously on the future: to master these and other challenges.
What do the Porsche solutions for the aforementioned future subjects look like in detail at this point?
Michael Steiner: The new Panamera makes clear how we can mesh groundbreaking technologies with the traditional Porsche genes to engender a new sense of mobility. Through the multiplicity of communication, comfort and assistance systems that are integrated in the Panamera, this vehicle is changing mobility even today. With Porsche InnoDrive, for example, an electronic co-pilot was developed that can be activated if needed to increase driving effi ciency. Overall, we’re employing a wide spectrum of driver assistance systems to create a new mobility experience while always keeping the human driver in mind at the same time.
Where is the Porsche journey headed?
Michael Steiner: Connectivity and driver assistance systems with a trend towards piloted driving are very exciting for us as well. Not because we dream of a driverless car but because we know that our customers will be stuck in traffic jams in their Porsches as well. We want to ease the experience in such situations. Another convenience function we offer is automated parking. But as soon as the traffi c clears or there’s a rural road on which the customer wants to take back the reins, we will always enable our customers to get back to enjoying the pleasure of driving a Porsche. Connectivity offers a wealth of possibilities as well: online updates for enhanced functionality, for example, or the linking of the intelligence of the vehicle sensor technology with swarm information. What we can do with that, what could make our vehicles even sportier — we have some good ideas there and will deliver some surprises.
Mr. Radmann, what effects do these trends have on engineering services by Porsche?
Malte Radmann: As an engineering services provider, we have to identify trends at an early stage and do our best to stay a step ahead of them so that we can always provide the ideal solutions. Having an eye for industry and market changes is essential. An engineering services provider must be able to act in an exceptionally flexible and agile manner in order to stay competitive. So we’ve continued to develop our strategy while incorporating the dominant trends and market developments. As we do so, we focus on three strategic business segments that will shape our business in the future: derivative and system development, testing and digitization.
What are you working on in particular?
Malte Radmann: In terms of “derivative and system development,” we’re forging ahead with the traditional themes of vehicle development while augmenting them with current trends in the field of virtual methods. The “testing” area encompasses new methods of virtual testing as well as, naturally, conventional testing of all vehicles, components and concepts developed by the customer. The “digitization” field encompasses topics relating to digital transformation in the vehicle and the vehicle-related environment. With the founding of our subsidiary for digitization in Cluj-Napoca last year, we’re making sure that we keep our finger on the pulse of the times in what’s been called Europe’s Silicon Valley and can be a driver in the latest developments in this field of activity.
Michael Steiner: Together with Porsche Digital GmbH, which we founded in early 2016, the subsidiary in Cluj will play an important role in the digital transformation in automotive development.
What role will the proving ground in Nardò play in the testing of future vehicle concepts?
Malte Radmann: Nardò has a strategic function. The proving ground has become an integral component of the Porsche group while maintaining its role as an important resource for the entire automotive industry. In the future, the focus will be on the further development of Nardò as an excellent test center for digitization and partially and/or fully autonomous driving without losing sight of conventional vehicle testing. But testing means much more to us than just the proving ground in Nardò: Testing and trials start with individual small components and have to be conducted at early stages of development, in particular on the virtual level. In addition to the relevant technical resources — at the Porsche Development Center in Weissach, among other locations — we have experienced employees with the requisite skills and can therefore offer comprehensive hardware- and software-in-the-loop solutions.
The future of vehicle technology often begins on the race track. What is the influence of motor racing on series development at Porsche?
Michael Steiner: In the motor racing milieu, state-of-the-art technologies are developed and tested under extreme conditions. In the process, we gain important insights that flow into series development. The 24 Hours of Le Mans, for example, are an extraordinary endurance test for high-performance lithiumion batteries and other components. The experience that we gain here is enormously important for the ongoing development of electromobility, to name one example.
Malte Radmann: We’re particularly proud that we were able to play such an important role in the LMP1 project as part of the overall battery development process for the Porsche 919 Hybrid, from the mechanical structure to complete system control and testing. We very much appreciate the trust that our parent company invested in us in that context.
What role will engineering services for external customers play for Porsche in the future?
Michael Steiner: Porsche and the engineering services have been inextricably linked since the very beginning. The origins of Porsche lie in engineering services. With the founding of his design office in 1931, Ferdinand Porsche strode into professional independence offering development services for vehicle technology. For Porsche, the developers of Porsche Engineering are today and will continue to represent an important internal wellspring of expertise which, drawing on its experience with projects for different industries, frequently brings a differentiated perspective to particular issues and thereby offers valuable “outside-the-box” thinking in development and problem-solving processes.
Malte Radmann: At the same time, we continue to pursue the projects for our customers in the global automotive industry with great passion. The external business of engineering services is and will remain firmly anchored in the Porsche brand core.
Mr. Steiner, between 2002 and 2005 you were the chief representative of Porsche Engineering. What experience did you draw from that period?
Michael Steiner: Then, as now, I was particularly impressed by the variety of technical requirements that are brought to Porsche through the customer development projects — be they from the automotive world or other technical fields. These projects are handled by a highly motivated team that quickly adjusts to technical changes and a vast range of different customer requirements. A company must always be sufficiently broadbased and flexible in order to demonstrate expertise precisely where the customer needs support and experience. This flexibility and targeted definition of expertise ensures that we’re well-positioned to handle market fluctuations and always have the right solution for customers.
Is there a project from that time that you recall with particular fondness?
Michael Steiner: During my time with Porsche Engineering, I was able to gain my first significant exposure to China. Projects for the Chinese market with very particular requirements and their international and intercultural challenges were especially exciting for me. I think back on that time very fondly.
Michael Steiner (52) studied mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Munich. After several years in management positions at Daimler AG, Michael Steiner came to Porsche in 2002. Here, he took over the management of innovation and concepts, bore responsibility for the Panamera series and was Vice President Complete Vehicle Engineering/Quality Management. Between 2002 and 2005, he was also Chief Representative of engineering services by Porsche. In 2016, Michael Steiner was appointed member of the Executive Board — Research and Development — of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG and chair of the shareholders’ committee of Porsche Engineering.
After his vocational training, Malte Radmann (63) was in senior sales positions for Daimler- Benz Aerospace Dornier and for Zung Fu, a Mercedes-Benz retailer in Hong Kong and China. In 1996, Malte Radmann came to Porsche as Head of Sales for the Porsche customer development for the markets Asia/Europe/USA. In 2005 he became Deputy Chief Representative of Porsche Engineering Group GmbH/Porsche Engineering Services GmbH and in 2009 he was appointed chairman of the management.
Text first published in the Porsche Engineering Magazin 2/2016
Interview by Frederic Damköhler // Photos by Victor Jon Goico