From the number 1 to the PanameraExactly 60 years ago, the cornerstone was laid for a family-operated company, whose rise from modest beginnings into one of the most important sports car marques in the world no one at the time could ever have foreseen.
On June 8, 1948 a new chapter in automobile history began. For on this day, the first Porsche prototype with the vehicle identification number 356-001 received its official approval and homologation for road service. "It all started when I began looking around and just could not find my dream car. So I decided to build it myself," said Ferry Porsche – and to this day, this genius and pioneering spirit has shaped the philosophy of the German company.
However, over the past six decades, Porsche has not only experienced peaks, but also troughs.
Yet thanks to efficient production methods, clear branding and innovative models, such as the 356 and the 911, Boxster and the Cayenne, the once small sports car specialist has quickly transformed into one of the most successful and profitable automobile manufacturers in the world.
"Today, Porsche is stronger than ever. We have the broadest and most appealing automobile model range in the history of our company. We have our costs and our processes under control and thus ensured our independence for the long term. We have always seen ourselves as David who must stand up to the Goliaths in this industry. This self-image has shaped us throughout the years - but it has also made us successful," explains Porsche CEO, Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking.
When Wiedeking took over management in 1992, Porsche had reached the depths of its most serious economic crisis. The company was in danger of losing its most valuable asset - its independence. Porsche was suddenly ripe for take-over. The situation had to be handled immediately. And the shareholder families, Porsche and Piëch, told the Board that they would lend their support.
Wiedeking and his Board colleagues not only produced the Boxster, but also brought about the company's turn-around through other economic measures. Under the generic terms 'lean management' and 'lean production', new organisational and production work-flows were introduced and the company's hierarchy and process structures were re-organised from top to bottom. It did not take long for the internal efforts to improve productivity and the newly-developed model line to have a positive impact. As quickly as 1995, Porsche was back in the black and began to assume a leading position by breaking new revenue, sales and earnings records annually.
Not only the balance sheet, but also the reputation of the Porsche brand reflects the company's exceptional position. For the fifth time in a row, top German managers from all industries have selected Porsche AG as the company with the best image in a survey by 'Manager Magazin'. The prestigious 'Initial Quality Study' of the American research institute J.D. Power, has ranked Porsche in first place for the second time. And the J.D. Power 'Appeal' Study confirms that the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer has, for the third time in a row, been ranked by American customers as the most appealing brand.
Over these past 60 years, Porsche has worked very hard to achieve this special image, mainly through its most varied innovations and also, in particular, in the area of environmental protection. Porsche engineers are never satisfied with only meeting current environmental regulations passed by law-makers. It has always been their goal to exceed them. Porsche vehicles should also set an example when it comes to environmental protection. So, as early as 1966, the first authorised emissions test in Europe was performed using a 911. Not long after, a separate department was established that also tested the emission values from vehicles produced by other manufacturers.
Porsche develops new technologies not just to improve driving features, but also to continuously optimise the cars for environmental sustainability. In the last 15 years, Porsche has succeeded in reducing the fuel consumption in its new cars, and thereby also CO2 emissions, by an average of 1.7 per cent annually. With regard to engine performance, Porsche currently already ranks among manufacturers with the lowest CO2 emissions. And by 2012, the fuel consumption in Porsche vehicles is going to be reduced by a further 20 percent – new, innovative engine technologies and the hybrid drive for the Cayenne and Panamera Gran Turismo will make this possible.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder once said: "Porsche is a model for Germany." By this, he was not only referring to the company's engineering ingenuity which the company stands for, he also meant the David principle by which Porsche, as a small automobile manufacturer, has been able to keep up with the Goliaths of its industry over the last 60 years. With the quality seal "Made in Germany", its rejection of subsidies as well as its sense of social responsibility towards its employees and society, Porsche has unflinchingly pursued its own path.
This includes the step by Porsche towards a new future in September 2005: its majority holding in Volkswagen AG. With almost 31 per cent of the voting share capital, Porsche is now the largest shareholder in VW. During the course of this year, its share will be increased to over 50 per cent.
The goal of this path is clear: under the umbrella of Porsche Automobil Holding SE, not only will growth for Porsche and Volkswagen be ensured thanks to their proven development and production partnership over the decades, but also the independence of both companies. And the Chairman of the Board, Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking promises that in the anniversary year of the Porsche sports car; "Porsche will remain Porsche in the future. Just as Volkswagen will remain Volkswagen. That is the recipe for success."