Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is this Porsche?

Porsche has always had a thing for innovation and never been afraid to try something different, creating cars like the 928 and Cayenne that challenged peoples' very perceptions of what a real Porsche was.

Now comes the news that they're working on an Adaptive Cruise Control system that feels like something from an Orwellian future. The Porsche ACC InnoDrive isn't designed just to sense the surrounding traffic and make adjustments to prevent collisions like the one Mercedes is promoting. It's a wicked-smart computer control module that integrates satellite navigation with an array of sensors to take over all pedal applications, maximizing fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions. And according to this review on Autoblog (written by the always articulate and often hilarious Matt Davis), it works remarkably well.

So why is Porsche, a sports car company, developing technology focused on saving gas?

Because it wants to survive.

It can't make enough money just selling 911s and Boxsters. Between factories, labor, distribution, dealers and the like, there's so much overhead in the auto business that it's very hard to be profitable if you limit yourself to just a few models.

That's why companies like Porsche, BMW and Lotus also sell design and engineering services to others in a wide variety of industries.

My guess is the ACC InnoDrive will show up not just on Carrera's and Cayman's, but also on its VW and Audi brethren. Porsche could also license the technology (as GM is starting to do with OnStar) to a wide range of manufacturers generating royalty revenue that could well exceed what they make selling cars. If I were running Mack Truck, I'd definitely be interested in a system like this.

And that revenue will allow them to continue to do what they really love, make more 911s.


  1. Speaking objectively now, that Matt Davis really is, as you so rightly put, always articulate and often hilarious. I would hazard to add words like "stunning", "magnificent", and/or their equivalents. He is frighteningly beautiful to me. And I'm speaking as a heterosexual male who has never even met this guy.

  2. I should have also described you as a supergenius, but as everyone knows, I'm prone to understatement.