Porsche Seemingly Goes Back On Its Autonomous Promise
Don’t believe everything automaker executives say.
Back in 2016 there was a lot of fervent talk about autonomous drive technology in the auto industry. Some were making big predictions that full self-driving cars would be available for 2020, 2021, or some other date not far off. Of course, all of those predictions proved to be hot air, but at the time it seemed to many the era of driving yourself would come to a rapid close. It was in that climate that Porsche CEO Oliver Blume told German publication Westfalen-Blatt that “an iPhone belongs in your pocket, not on the road.”
See a Tesla Model X stuck on a beach here.
Blume allayed the concerns of many enthusiasts who feel quite dedicated to the Porsche brand by promising there would never be a self-driving car wearing the company badge. Here we are seven years later and Blume’s now CEO of Volkswagen Group as well as Porsche, but that’s not all that’s different.
Porsche proudly announced recently a partnership with Mobileye, a technology company, which will provide driver assistance technologies. That means Porsche will be aiming for a “full integration of Mobileye SuperVision into its future models.”
Understandably, not everyone’s happy about this move. After all, Porsche purists are a notoriously cantankerous lot. Some are still upset about the company over two decades ago launching a crossover, the Cayenne. Now there are two under the Porsche banner. Still others are still smarting over the switch to water-cooled engines for the 911.
However, courting growth for Porsche has meant expanding beyond its usual enthusiast customer base, something it has done quite well. That has of course left some hardcore fans feeling a bit miffed, although Porsche has masterfully provided many of them with plenty of models to get excited about, so long as they’re well-heeled customers.
Still, we don’t know exactly what this partnership with Mobileye will mean for the future of Porsche. It’s possible the German automaker won’t go for cars driving themselves but opt for more of a driver enhancement model where the assistance systems don’t take full control, instead enhancing what the person behind the wheel is doing. That’s a guess, but Prof. Amnon Shashua, President and CEO of Mobileye was quoted in Porsche’s press release as saying, “We developed the Mobileye SuperVision system to enhance safety through the synergetic interaction of the driver and the vehicle.”
Depending on how things play out, Blume’s 2016 declaration against autonomous driving and the future of this partnership with Mobileye could be yet another example of automotive executives saying one thing and following up with something entirely different, or perhaps adjusting to future market conditions.
Images via Porsche
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