11/30/2018

Thinking One Step Ahead

Time for a quick stop at Porsche Digital in Ludwigsburg. The team headed by CEO Thilo Koslowski is envisioning the future. The world premiere of the new Porsche 911 heralds three digital developments that reveal how the Porsche company is expanding beyond the car itself into new horizons.

An exclusive lifestyle with Porsche 360+

Porsche 360+ is both inspiration and an assistant. The aim of 360+ is to facilitate a Porsche lifestyle even when you’re not on the road. A perfunctory glance would tell you that 360+ is an app. Driving it, however, is not just technology but above all people who are ready to turn wishes into reality—from the more ordinary variety to the truly exclusive.

Let’s say you’re looking for a birthday gift that’s unavailable in your country. You let the team know of your request by e-mail, chat, or a phone call—and with the help of certified partners, they come to the rescue. Porsche 360+ continuously improves its knowledge of customer preferences. It’s an integral part of what Thilo Koslowski, CEO of Porsche Digital, described two years ago as his vision of the “Internet of Me”: a networked digital world that perceives and fulfills individual wishes, perhaps even before the user is aware that they exist. This driver’s assistant is making its debut in Germany together with the new 911. Similar to taking out a subscription, you pay a fee to become a customer. “Members benefit from a nearly unlimited choice of experiences and services,” says David Appold, product manager of 360+. The next steps are already in the planning process. These might, for instance, include exclusive Porsche events. Porsche 360+ will begin as a limited offer for 911 customers: a manageable number open to expansion. That’s because the digital lifestyle assistant isn’t aimed exclusively at Porsche owners.

Porsche Road Trip

The world’s most beautiful routes—specially selected for Porsche drivers. It all sounds so fitting and so easy that you find yourself wondering why no one has thought of it before. “Quite simply,” says Jennifer Dungs, who was involved in product development, “there’s an incredible amount of work involved.” Every route in the app has been individually chosen and then stored in the system. Plus, the app includes the nicest overlooks as well as the finest restaurants and accommodations. And, of course, the navigation notes every bend in the road—for driving pleasure and unforgettable moments.

For the market launch, Porsche Road Trip will be free and can be downloaded from the App Store to an iOS device. The next step, scheduled for the spring of 2019, will be to implement Porsche Road Trip into the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) of the new 911. So far, routes in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the United States are available, and the number is expanding. “It’s going to take a while,” says Dungs. “Our goal isn’t to have as many routes listed in as short a time as possible but to take care with every detail. We want to offer the best routes not only to every Porsche driver but also to sports-car enthusiasts who aren’t our customers yet.” And here she casually mentions an important detail: Porsche Road Trip is aimed at a larger audience than Porsche drivers alone. “Porsche wants to expand its horizons to include more than the cars themselves and to enhance the brand’s position even further.” Porsche Road Trip is thus a gift from the new Porsche 911 to each of its predecessors.

Porsche Impact: a comprehensive view of CO₂

Seventy percent of all Porsches ever built are still on the road today. A Porsche is made to last and thus ensures the careful use of resources. But that’s not enough. For the sports-car manufacturer, the entire genesis and life cycle of a product is relevant, including the production of a sports car. Porsche Impact has in turn set its sights on addressing the CO₂ emissions of all Porsches on the road today and also uses digitalization to answer questions concerning sustainability. In collaboration with an established partner, the sports-car manufacturer offers drivers the opportunity to make a financial contribution to climate protection. All you need to do is enter your annual mileage and the model of your car online. The partner South Pole handles the billing process.

The financial contribution is invested in internationally certified climate protection projects around the world—for instance, a forest protection project for 785,000 hectares in Zimbabwe, where an interconnected biodiversity corridor is being created, forest clearance ended, and protection of the extensive rain forest secured. Investments in wind, solar, and water energy are other areas of involvement. Customer surveys carried out in advance of launching this venture showed the company which goals are most meaningful to sustainability-oriented drivers of premium-segment cars. Porsche itself is leading the way by setting a good example: the company’s fleet of approximately six thousand vehicles worldwide—including race cars—are already participating in the program.

Porsche Impact is now ready for the market launch and will first be rolled out in Germany, Poland, and the UK. The objective is to expand the program worldwide as quickly as possible. As Fabian Kirchhoff, one of the minds behind Porsche Impact, explains, “Surveys show that Porsche customers are receptive to this type of program.”

Prospects

Ignition key on the left, gas pedal on the right. In the 911 some things never change. But somewhere in between there’s room for those ideas that add new facets to our fasination for sports cars. Thilo Koslowski predicts that digitalization will play a decisive role in this process. His vision of the future is closer to the quintessence of every Porsche than one might imagine. Because he never forgets that without people, it’s all for naught.

Thilo Koslowski, CEO of Porsche Digital GmbH, and his team—around eighty strong—moved into their new Ludwigsburg premises, near Stuttgart, just a few months ago. It’s a former engineering works in the heart of town, a building of brick and steel. Innovators, developers, project managers, and user experience designers now meet in agile product teams where shift workers once stood along assembly lines. The team takes a holistic approach to thinking and production. Everyone is on a first-name basis with the boss, “Thilo.” He leaves the Laguna Seca conference room and enters the Monaco room, passing seating areas where laptops are glowing and ideas are shimmering. In the interview below, he explains why digital products that are a response to questions unrelated to driving pleasure are being launched in tandem with the new Porsche 911.

 

Porsche Digital has been in existence for two years. Your team has grown from two employees to eighty. What does the launch of the Porsche Impact, 360+, and Road Trip projects mean for such a new company?

We’re currently working on fifteen projects, collaborating with thirteen start-ups and venture capital funds, and involved in seven other strategic projects that reflect our vision of what Porsche will be in the future. Having three digital products going live simultaneously with the new Porsche 911 is a major step for us. We’re shaping Porsche’s future together with our colleagues who further refine the company’s sports cars.

You worked in Silicon Valley for around twenty years. What are some experiences from that period that now help you at Porsche Digital?

We work closely with Porsche AG and are a fully owned subsidiary. In this regard, the Silicon Valley approach that prioritizes customer desires is our approach as well. However—and here’s the difference—we’re taking a different path than start-ups in Silicon Valley.

What does the Porsche path look like?

We’re interested in enduring quality. That’s one element that we’ve established over the past two years. Porsche has an outstanding tradition and durable products. That must be mirrored digitally as well. Whatever we put on the market has to bring added value to the customer. It can’t follow a short-lived trend; it has to set trends for the future.

And how are you setting trends for the future?

At the moment, we’re doing that through Porsche Impact, 360+, and Porsche Road Trip. Porsche Impact, because it’s another building block in the actions we’re taking on the road to sustainable mobility. We’re no longer considering the Porsche company alone but inviting customers to be active participants as well. They can do that by becoming aware of the ecological footprint left by the 70 percent of all Porsches ever built that are still on the road. What could be more sustainable than that? Porsche 360+, because at its highest stage, our first lifestyle product is aimed at anyone who delights in our way of life. We translate the concept of the concierge into the digital world and link it to a back office where operators are available around the clock to meet customer requests. Porsche Road Trip turns the journey into the destination, offering curated routes with everything one might want along the way, including restaurants, hotels, and points of interest. It’s all together in a single offer and can be used in any Porsche—as well as in any other car.

You work a lot with other start-ups. What’s the collaboration like in practice?

It varies considerably. We look for partners with whom we can collaborate on innovations. To do that, we also help finance start-ups that are being set up or have just been launched. But to some extent we get involved earlier on, when the start-up is perhaps still at the concept stage. So anyone with a clever concept should stop by. Every day, numerous applications arrive either at our office or our accelerator, APX, with ideas for mobility, Porsche, and other topics that we find exciting. In addition, we look for new companies that would be a good fit for a collaboration—for instance, selected specialists in car care service for 360+.

If everything is going digital, will Porsches turn into smartphones on wheels?

I hear that comparison all the time. But in fact, it’s the other way around! A car is the ultimate mobility tool. It takes me everywhere I want to go and with the utmost precision; unlike a helicopter, it doesn’t need a landing pad at a distance from the destination; it doesn’t need a stop like a bus. Cars are enjoying a renaissance, because the need for individual and connected mobility is increasing. And that’s why a car will always be a car, even if you find displays and artificial intelligence inside.

But how will we get around with our cars? Will they drive autonomously or be self-steering?

Both. Autonomous driving for traffic jams or on monotonous roads? Why not? And just take a look at all the positive images we have that relate to driving—you need look no further than idioms such as “to take the wheel.” It shows me that driving a car is a sensual experience. For me, it’s a vacation for the soul. It was something I enjoyed doing in California on weekends, and I made an effort to find new routes. One of them, by the way, is now part of Porsche Road Trip: Highway No. 1.

Digital products from Porsche—what do you think Ferdinand Porsche would’ve said to that?

That’s a good question. He’d probably have found it quite exciting. But I don’t want to speculate and prefer to mention what his grandson Dr. Wolfgang Porsche thinks about the subject. He knows that our emergence into the digital age will ensure that the heart of the Porsche brand will continue to beat in future generations. That’s because Porsche is more than merely a car. What we’re doing here is providing digital opportunities and experiences. We don’t want to compel any customer to drive autonomously or to use digital applications. What’s most important to me is that our children will one day want to experience Porsche too.

Info

Text first published in the Porsche customer magazine Christophorus, No. 389

AUTHOR

Thorsten Elbrigmann Editor-in-Chief of “Porsche Klassik” magazine and looks after the Volkswagen customer magazine “Mein Magazin”. t.elbrigmann@delius-klasing.de

PHOTOGRAPHER

Heiko Simayer Clients include German Fashion, Hugo Boss, VBH and Liganova Brandbook. His work focuses on cars, people, landscapes and architecture. hello@simayer.com

PHOTOGRAPHER

Thorsten Doerk Has worked for several automotive clients, including Volkswagen, Bugatti, Mercedes-Benz and Ducati. His work focuses on portraits and reportage. contact@thorstend-photography.de
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