Electromobility, Sustainability and the Zero Impact Factory
These are exciting days: We’re currently living through one of the biggest transitions in Porsche’s history. With the release of the Taycan, we’re officially entering the age of electric mobility. Last week, we revealed our first all-electric sports car to the public. And now, we’re celebrating the official opening of the Taycan-factory at our headquarter in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.
There are, in fact, two key moments in the history of Porsche in which electricity plays the starring role. The first moment dates to the end of the 19th century, when automobility was still in its infancy. Back then, the Porsche name was already associated with electric vehicles. Since a very young age, Ferdinand Porsche had been fascinated with electricity. In 1893, at the age of just 18, he equipped his parents’ home in the Bohemian village of Maffersdorf, or what is now Vratislavice nad Nisou, with an electric doorbell and electric lights — it was the second building in the village, after a local factory, to have electric lighting.
Seven years later, 25-year-old Ferdinand made a name for himself at the World Expo in Paris with the Lohner-Porsche, a battery-electric vehicle with two hub-mounted motors. “You’ll hear a lot more from him,” remarked the Austrian vehicle manufacturer Ludwig Lohner. The press was also full of praise, celebrating the Lohner-Porsche as an “epoch-making innovation.”
Our future begins today: sustainable mobility
Today, around 120 years later, the question of alternative drive concepts is more topical than ever. With our electric offensive, launched in 2015 as the concept study Mission E, we are in a sense returning to our electric roots. But the Taycan is, of course, not simply a homage to the Lohner-Porsche and the historical beginnings of electric driving; rather, it’s a window into the future of modern and sustainable mobility.
Over seven decades of know-how and experience as well as a great deal of passion have gone into the development of our first all-electric sports car. The Taycan opens a new chapter in the history of our company. In many respects, it represents a profound turning point for Porsche: the transformation from a pure sports car manufacturer to a successful provider of sporty and sustainable mobility.
Yet, at Porsche, we are aware that mobility can only be sustainable in the long term if it is ecologically sound, socially just and economically successful. Consequently, we consider ecological, social and economic goals equally. It’s our aim to create economic and social prosperity and protect the environment. Indeed, these objectives are firmly anchored in our corporate strategy.
Introducing the new Taycan-factory: say hello to the factory of tomorrow
With the Taycan, we are not only setting new standards in terms of performance and efficiency, we are also breaking new ground in production. For our new electric car, we created the production process from scratch: The classic assembly line is now obsolete, replaced by what we call the “flexi-line.”
For the first time, we use driverless transport systems in a continuous flow. What’s more, in order to be able to produce the Taycan in Zuffenhausen, we had to completely restructure our production site. In fact, with the Taycan came the largest construction project in the site’s history, 700 million euros were invested. My colleague Albrecht Reimold, Member of the Porsche Executive Board for Production, has aptly described this restructuring process as an “open-heart operation”: “We’re reinventing our main site with the Taycan, building a factory within a factory. We’re integrating a completely new production facility with new technology and new processes — while running at full production capacity in our existing plant.” Less than 48 months have passed between the presentation of the Mission E concept study in 2015 and the opening of the Taycan factory today.
But why did we decide to produce the Taycan in Zuffenhausen in the first place?
A glance at history shows that Porsche’s heart beats in Zuffenhausen. In 1931, Ferdinand Porsche founded his own design office in Stuttgart, the Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH, Konstruktion und Beratung für Motoren- und Fahrzeugbau, thus laying the foundation for today’s company. 7 years later, the office and a total of 176 employees moved from the city centre to Zuffenhausen. Today, more than 11,000 employees work here. Porsche therefore made a conscious decision to manufacture the Taycan at the place where it all began more than 80 years ago and where the heart and soul of the brand have their home.
Porsche has also forged a special pact with its employees, a one-of-a-kind arrangement in the automotive industry. Employees participate financially in the project — they are therefore an integral part of the transformation process. Moreover, electric mobility is a job engine for Porsche and the Stuttgart region. A total of 1,500 new jobs will be created in Zuffenhausen in connection with the Taycan and the Taycan Cross Turismo.
Zero Impact Factory: towards a zero-emission future
Our production strategy for the Taycan incorporates a new factory concept, which we call Porsche Production 4.0. Production 4.0 is based on three pillars: smart (flexible, networked production with 4.0 technology), lean (responsible use of resources and few handling stages) and green (sustainable and environmentally-friendly production). In fact, we’ve been working hard to build the Taycan in a sustainable way, and we’re committed to making significant progress towards a zero-emission future. From the very beginning, it was particularly important to us to produce the Taycan CO₂-neutral in Zuffenhausen.
Moreover, to reduce our environmental impact, we’ve implemented several measures at our manufacturing facilities in Zuffenhausen. Old, inefficient production buildings were replaced with new, energy-efficient ones. In addition to greening roof areas, we’ve equipped them with photovoltaic systems. We have also begun electrifying our logistic vehicle fleet e.g. by using natural gas trucks.
We take a holistic and future-oriented view of the effects of all products and operational activities on the natural foundations of life. Our aim is to minimise the use of resources and waste through optimal energy and material cycles. This way, we reduce our ecological footprint over the entire life cycle — our vision is: “Go to Zero”.
Daniela Rathe is Director Politics, External Relations and Sustainability at Porsche. To find out more about Porsche and Technology, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. For Porsche, shaping the future of the sports car means bringing tradition and our company values together with innovative technologies and new products on a sustainable basis. Taking a responsible approach to people, the environment, and society, throughout the value chain — from suppliers right through to the recycling of products — is important to Porsche. Our objective is to take steps to enhance economic and societal value creation throughout our products’ lifecycle. At the same time, it’s also important that we reduce the environmental impact of our business processes and products on an ongoing basis. Learn more about Sustainability at Porsche via Porsche Newsroom.