Mr. Reimold, what does the launch of the first electric sports car from Porsche mean for you?
With the Taycan we open a new chapter. Porsche has deliberately decided to produce this new icon at its headquarters in Zuffenhausen – heart and home of the brand. The Taycan is something very special: power, range, the innovative 800-volt technology for shortest charging times and the entire vehicle concept are unique. He is a thoroughbred sports car, at the same time suitable for everyday use – a typical Porsche. More than 30,000 serious prospective buyers from all over the world have already registered with Porsche – without having ever seen the car. That's overwhelming. What happens here is well above what we could have expected.
The Taycan is considered the most demanding project that Porsche has ever tackled. In Zuffenhausen, a completely new plant was created. Porsche invested around one billion euros in this.
Yes, because the Taycan is very important to us. All you have to do is take a look at the enormous pace with which we are realizing the project: in September 2015, we presented the Mission E Study at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In November, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new body shop took place, in which we are already producing the body of the current 911. Six months later we started clearing the construction site for the new assembly. At the same time, the production facilities for the Taycan were planned. Twelve months later, the first prototypes and development vehicles were created in the pilot center. This is all very sporty.
What are the biggest challenges?
With the Taycan we are reinventing our parent plant, creating a factory in the factory: we are integrating a completely new production with new technology and new processes – and this while our existing factory is working at full capacity. After all, we already produce more vehicles than ever before in Zuffenhausen with 250 two-door sports cars a day. It's like an open-heart surgery and has an impact on all the relevant areas: from the smooth running of the current production, to the preparations for the Taycan's start of production, and the preservation of local residents' interests. After all, our main plant borders on residential and commercial areas, is criss-crossed by numerous roads and a railway line. All this requires sophisticated logistics and is the reason why we also produce the Taycan over several fl oors and building complexes.
Wouldn’t it have been easier to manufacture the Taycan in Porsche's Leipzig plant? There is more free space there than in Zuffenhausen.
Zuffenhausen is the cradle of our sports cars. The Taycan is our clear commitment to this traditional location, which we lead into the future by securing existing jobs and even creating new ones Through a staff pact we have made the Taycan "our project". In addition to a good neighborhood, the decision of the Supervisory Board and corporate management, it also takes the support of employees for such a unique step. And they also financially support the project by contributing one-quarter of their collective salary increase to a fund. This is unique in the automobile industry. In addition, we establish with the Taycan highly innovative production methods and make a step towards the factory of the future. We call this Porsche Production 4.0 – smart, lean and green. Smart stands for flexible, networked production. Lean means responsible and efficient use of resources. And green refers to sustainability and environmental protection. After all, we also want to constantly improve the environmental performance of our products. In the area of production and logistics, we have reduced CO₂ emissions per manufactured vehicle by more than 75 percent since 2014.
Goal thus achieved?
No. Because we will produce the Taycan CO₂-neutral in Zuffenhausen. And our vision is even more far-reaching: a production where we leave no ecological footprint – in terms of the supply chain and product lifecycle.
What is the difference between the production of a purely electric and a conventionally powered sports car – are there any similarities?
It's not that we simply use a battery instead of the tank or an electric drive instead of an internal combustion engine. And of course, it's different to mount a battery, an electric motor and the associated cooling in comparison to a combustor with its exhaust system. Nevertheless, the Taycan is a car whose body also wants to be assembled and painted. The assembly order is largely the same. When dealing with high-voltage technology, however, new expertise is required, which is why we qualify all our employees accordingly. After all, we want to guarantee for the Taycan the same high-quality standards that Porsche has always been known for. In addition, it should be possible to individualize the purely electrically powered sports cars // to the same extent as it is the case today with our current models. Our customers appreciate the high degree of customization that Porsche offers. Everyone gets exactly the vehicle they want. We build, if you like, unique pieces in series. That is also true of the Taycan.
There is no classical assembly line in the Taycan production anymore.
Yes, we were able to completely redesign the Taycan production from the beginning. This has the advantage that we are now establishing highly innovative production standards in Zuffenhausen. We assemble the Taycan on a so-called Flexi-Line with driverless transport systems that move independently from station to station. This not only gives us new freedom in the production plant, but also in the architecture of the new plant. The Flexi- Line offers huge benefits in terms of investment and flexibility. By dispensing with conveyor belts that are firmly integrated in the foundation, we save around 30 percent on investment costs. And without the rigid assembly line we can modify the production at any time, integrate something new or drive a bypass to implement special customer requests.
The Taycan production also sets new standards in digitization.
That's true, even if in connection with Industry 4.0 is often spoken of a "revolution". I do not think so. Because today we continue to develop what we have already created in the past through automation, simulation and virtual product and production planning. Digitization helps us, on the one hand, with the ergonomic design of the working world. It also helps colleagues analyze complex processes and workflows, and gives us transparency, for example, to check where and why a digital flow may not be on the most ideal path. In this way we are shown potential that we otherwise might not recognize.
Is that the precursor to the factory without staff?
No, our focus is still on the people. That will not change. We automate to relieve our colleagues and help them in their work, but still rely on highly skilled professionals. For the demanding task of putting high-quality, individual and powerful sports cars on the wheels, the combination of using the latest technologies and the know-how of our specialists is indispensable.
No jobs are lost?
We have almost doubled our workforce in just a few years – now to more than 33,000 employees. For the Taycan and Cross Turismo alone, we get an additional 1,500 colleagues on board. Electric mobility is a job engine for Porsche.
Fair premiere of the Porsche Mission E in Frankfurt (IAA)
Ground-breaking ceremony for the new body shop
Supervisory Board decision on mass production of the four-door electric sports car
Decision for the location Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen
from July 2016
Planning of the production facilities for the Taycan
Excavation for the new assembly hall
Production of the first test vehicles in the pilot center Plant 2 Zuffenhausen (construction stage)
Fair premiere of the Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo in Geneva
Prototype production in pilot center Plant 2 in Zuffenhausen (first pre-production)
Decision to mass-produce the Taycan Cross Turismo
Construction of the first vehicles in the new assembly (17.-21.12.2018)
Start pre-production in the new assembly
World premiere of the Porsche Taycan
"Start of Production" and Taycan production factory opening