Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Road Ahead For Porsche

SIMON: Volkswagen has taken a controlling interest of Porsche (after a seesaw battle where Porsche had a controlling interest of VW). What that means for Porsche is hard to say right now. However, it’s worth pointing out that VW already owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini to name a few and there's where things could get a little tricky for Porsche. VW owns a lot of car companies that already make supercars, so where does Porsche fit in? Does it mean that Porsche will become a badge engineering entity? I don’t think so. On the surface, VW lets its companies cooperate with each other and not crush their individual spirit. Certainly Audi, Lambo and Bugatti work with each other, although Porsche’s design philosophy doesn’t quite walk in step with the others.

I remember when Fiat took over Ferrari in the 80’s. There was a lot of concern that there'd be a lot of interference and cars would suffer because of it and there's some truth to that. The Testarossa did have a lot of Fiat switches and knobs, etc., but in the long run, Ferrari does seem to have benefitted from their ownership. Personally, I don’t think Porsche will suffer the issues as Ferrari. However, I am interested to see where they fit in. Audi engineers seems to have done a lot of the development for Lambo and Bugatti, but will Porsche be left alone or will there be some competition between Audi and Porsche engineers to do some special projects. That’s where there could be some internal rivalry.

What do you think Tam Tam?

TAMMY: My first question is about the plan of Porsche to come back to Le Mans with a prototype ... which would presumably go up against Audi for top honors. That will be interesting. I don't see a lot to worry about in terms of a different company philosophy. At least, I don't expect Volkswagen to water down Porsche's class and racing heritage.

My second thought is that it's sort of a non-issue. The two companies have come full circle, back to where they started, given that Dr. Ferdinand Porsche designed the Beetle for Hitler in 1933. And the two companies' product lines have always been mixed. (My husband has a story about working on a free 1978 Plymouth Horizon and discovering that the VW/Audi branded half-shaft could only be purchased at the local Porsche dealer.) So I don't think much will change, at least between VW and Porsche. Now, will there be any competition for favored status among those products owned by VW? That could get interesting....

Do any of the rest of you think differently?

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