Matthias Müller ? Annual Press Conference 2015 ? March 13, 2015
Ladies and gentlemen,
After looking at business year 2014 in detail, I would now like to put my focus on 2015 and the medium-term future.
The new business year started extremely well for Porsche. We were able to follow up on the success of the previous year with good delivery figures. By the end of February, we had already delivered 31,000 new vehicles to our customers worldwide. This is approximately a third more than the first two months of 2014.
These figures are particularly pleasing because the global environment has not improved and is anything but easy. The worldwide political situation is unchanged and characterised by many uncertainties. We can only hope that there will be a lasting change for the better to the situation in the Ukraine and the Middle East. And likewise neither can the euro crisis be regarded as solved, as the latest developments in Greece show. In China, too, long-term planning is difficult in view of the looming threat of trade barriers and stricter environmental standards.
We have therefore spoken out very clearly in favour of the free trade agreement between the EU and the USA. The rules and regulations standardised by TTIP will help us to reduce costs. For example, today we still have to offer two different door mirrors or attachments for number plates. With TTIP this would no longer be necessary. I am fundamentally convinced that in the long term we would all benefit from open markets with fair, contractually agreed rules.
A few weeks ago I read a report by “technology trend researchers” that said that in eight years’ time at the latest we will be able to use an app to call a driverless taxi. Maybe that will be the case, who knows. But even in eight years’ time most people will much prefer to do something else – to drive a Porsche themselves.
Of course, we will also follow the technological path to the future and support our customers with intelligent assistance systems in their Porsche if there is a demand for this and it is expedient. But we do not need to be the technology leader in this area.
We want to continue to take the lead and to leave the competitive field behind where the essential values of our brand are found. This particularly applies to the engine, the drivetrain and the whole chassis. These are the decisive components for the sporty performance of a vehicle. And these are also the main features that distinguish a Porsche from the competition and make it unique.
Nonetheless, with every new model generation we will provide a contemporary answer to actual customer wishes relating to connectivity and operating convenience. Our customers quite rightly expect this from us. But they don’t want a smartphone on four wheels or the biggest touchscreen in the centre console from us. At Porsche there is no room for window-dressing. Rather, we aim to smartly combine the available technologies and applications with the automobile, which already is a highly complex system, to form a single unit. This alone necessitates high investments in research and development.
And we are also tightening our quality assurance. In July last year we opened a new analysis and quality centre in Zuffenhausen. This enables even more detailed error- cause analyses for the different components. A comparable quality and analysis centre will start operation in Leipzig in a year’s time. Because we believe that if you stop becoming better, you stop being good.
In addition, we have set ourselves the challenge of developing sustainable solutions for climate protection. This continues to be a very important topic for our industry. Porsche has shown that downsizing, hybrid drive systems and lightweight design enable great advances in reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions without limiting the sporty driving pleasure that is typical of our brand. We will continue to resolutely pursue this strategy.
As you see, big challenges still face us. But if we act circumspectly to remain highly profitable on a long-term basis, the future will hold lots of opportunities for Porsche, and we will seize them with confidence.
This year our deliveries will reach the 200,000-vehicle mark. But it is not this number alone that is decisive for us. I have always said that the creation of value is what is important to us – that means long-term and sustainable growth. This is also demonstrated by the fact that we continue to be on target with our operating results with an average operating return on sales of 15 percent and return on investment of 21 percent.
Even more important than the corporate figures are the people who work for Porsche. I would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to the fact that the number of employees in the Porsche Group has grown by more than 70 percent since 2010 to more than 22,400 today. Last year alone we employed around 3,000 women and men. Can you name another German industrial enterprise of a comparable size that is able to report such recruitment figures? And we will create further jobs to secure our growth. Our target for 2018 is approximately 25,000 employees.
Integrating all these new colleagues in the existing workforce to create a powerful team requires a huge effort. Eventually, we all want to retain the culture of our company and to remain a highly attractive employer in the future.
This is why we will consistently develop our sites and prepare them for the future. This also applies to our main plant in Zuffenhausen where, among other things, in the next few years we will be constructing a new engine plant and a new body shop for a total of more than 600 million euros. The heart of our company is here in Zuffenhausen. From 2016 this is where all our two-door sports cars will be produced – the 911, the Boxster and the Cayman – with maximum production flexibility.
This applies to our development centre in Weissach in which we will continue to invest approximately 100 million euros each year. Even though we do not know which road will lead to the automotive future, we are certain that cars engineered by Porsche will drive on it. This applies equally to our second production site, the plant in Leipzig. There we are further expanding our capacities for more than 500 million euros so that we can produce the entire Panamera in our Saxony plant from 2016. In the course of this year we will start employing and training several hundred new production staff. In addition, we are creating approximately 100 new jobs for engineers.
We are looking forward to the new members of the Porsche team. Because one thing is clear: we will only be able to secure and extend our market leadership if we succeed in attracting and retaining excellent employees in the future.
As you know, I was reappointed Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG for another term of office in January of this year. Furthermore, two weeks ago the Executive Board of Volkswagen AG appointed me to the Group Board of Management. I see it as a great honour and a sign of confidence to be a regular member there. However, I would like to emphasise that this appointment will not affect my work here at Porsche in any way. It goes without saying that I will remain Chairman of the Executive Board here in Zuffenhausen. Together with my colleagues I have lots of plans here.
For example, in the not too distant future we will present a seventh model series. But I am not yet able to tell you exactly when this will happen. There are already promising plans, but no board decision yet. But one thing is clear: there is no urgency whatsoever here. Because we are very successful with our derivative strategy for the existing model series. And we will intensify this strategy. Our derivatives meet the wish of many of our customers to own a vehicle that is as individual as possible. In this respect, this year we have already made people sit up and take notice with the Cayman GT4 and the 911 GT3 RS. And you can expect further highlights from us in the coming months.
There is one thing that I would like to expressly mention today: Le Mans! At the annual press conference last year I told you that for our return to the world’s most famous endurance race our focus was not primarily on “winning” but rather on “keeping up” with the competition. We did more than just keep up. But when you’re thwarted so close to the finishing line as the leader – as we were – then it’s certainly painful! On this day I sympathised with the team and all our fans who followed the race on the track or live here at the museum. But those who know us understand that we love sporty competition and that we are already eagerly anticipating this year’s race in Le Mans. This year we will enter with three teams and an even better 919 Hybrid. And it is no secret when I say that this time we would like to have a place on the podium. All these efforts have an objective that goes far beyond Le Mans. The experience and the knowledge from the high-speed high-tech laboratory of the 919 Hybrid will benefit all our future vehicles and therefore also our customers.
Because today more than ever the principle of “from the racetrack to the road” applies. The advancement of electric mobility is also a focus here. For us the question is not whether a vehicle powered purely by electricity with the performance typical of Porsche will hit the roads, but rather when we will delight our customers with a vehicle like this. Our plug-in hybrids are currently the best conceivable offer. One thing is certain: in the future, too, we will be driven by the perfect synthesis of performance and efficiency. We call this “Intelligent Performance” – and it is typically Porsche.
Porsche has developed successfully and is in a better position today than ever before. We have already achieved major targets of the Porsche Strategy 2018 ahead of time. That was a Herculean task, which called for a huge effort on the part of all those involved. But we can be more than satisfied with what we have achieved so far.
Of course, we are already thinking about setting the strategic course for the future of Porsche far beyond the year 2018. Nevertheless, it is still too early to formulate a new Porsche Strategy 20-X. Our first priority now is to consolidate what we have achieved and secure these achievements in the long term. Against the background of rapid growth in the last four years we need to carefully examine and optimise our processes and adjust them to new requirements if necessary. But despite all the changes one thing is certain: in the future we will continue to delight our customers with exciting sports cars.