The path to every vehicle made by Porsche begins at the racetrack – an ideal starting point that informs the company’s mission. “Everything we learn at the racetrack helps further our mission of developing the sports car of tomorrow,” says Jens Puttfarcken, CEO of Porsche China.
“We are never content to rest on our laurels. We always blaze new trails, believe in our ideas and fight for our principles. We never blindly follow trends or allow ourselves to become complacent. This persistence – whereby each idea is nurtured – is what has defined us since our very beginning.”
Established in Stuttgart, Germany in 1931, Porsche has built a successful global empire in the luxury sports car market that has placed it among the crème de la crème of high-performance vehicle manufacturers. Central to its DNA is strong a sports culture, which culminates in its creation of ‘intelligent performance’.
“Our mission to build sports cars for daily life drives us to translate racetrack victory into a street-legal vehicle in the most intelligent way,” Jens says. “A Porsche must combine design and function, performance and everyday usability, innovation and tradition, and exclusiveness and social acceptance – all in a great harmony. That is our principle of car making.”
The Porsche Museum next to Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart Zuffenhausen showcases more than 80 vehicles from the car manufacturer’s history.
Porsche’s image has remained unchanged over the years and it continues to deliver on founder Ferdinand (Ferry) Porsche’s goal of building the dream sports car and creating the ultimate sports car experience for its customers. “You do not just drive a Porsche; you live it at any time,” Jens says. “This attitude is shared by our customers from all over the world.”
While his passion for vehicles is clear, a career in the automotive industry wasn’t the first choice Jens had in mind for himself. “I was totally convinced that I’d become a famous architect – someone like Norman Foster,” he laughs. “But then there was my love of automobiles and I managed to get into this industry and liked what I was doing.”
Jens’ first job was with Fiat – “I fell in love with the Italian way of living and working,” he says – before he worked his way to Porsche. He ascended in rank from sales management positions to become CEO of Porsche Deutschland. Then, in July 2018, Jens was appointed President and CEO of Porsche China and Porsche Hong Kong.
China is the company’s largest sales market, accounting for nearly a third of new car sales, followed by the US and Germany. In 2018, China was the largest single market for Porsche, accounting for more than 80,000 car deliveries, a 12% year-on-year growth.
Chinese customers are unique in that they are a generation younger than in traditional markets. On average, Chinese customers are 36 years old, compared with those in Germany and the US, who are around 53 and 52 respectively. “The younger generation are taking brand value more seriously,” Jens says.
“When they buy a premium product, they don’t just want to have big letters of the name of the premium product, but to understand what is behind that premium product and what value it offers as well. So it is something important that we need to reflect in the way we produce cars and what we offer around the product itself.”
Further, the company has seen a growth in women buying Porsche cars in many markets around the world. In China, the proportion of female and male car owners is almost the same. Jens says China’s automobile market is undergoing a “more profound revolution than ever before”. “It is very fast-moving and has become a strategic market for almost all automobile players,” he says.
“If a manufacturing brand wants to be successful worldwide in the future, and be able to cope with all the new trends in terms of connectivity, digitisation, electromobility and automobile driving, then it has to be successful in China first. I think we have a lot to learn from China.”
Globally, Porsche is strengthening its digitisation efforts by developing digital mobility solutions for the premium automotive segment. Through its Digitization Competence Center and the Porsche Digital China team, it is creating digital customer experiences both inside and outside its vehicles.
In addition, the company is also doubling its expenditure on trends for the future, committing to investing more than €6 billion (almost US$6.9 billion) in electromobility by 2022. While the global objective of Porsche is to deliver the ultimate sports car experience for customers, internally, Jens emphasises a family spirit among its employees.
“This needs clear guidance but also empathy, patience, accountability, respect, energy and creativity,” he says. “And we will always have fun while doing our work.” The biggest lesson Jens has learned throughout his tenure at Porsche so far has been around respecting and valuing its people.
Porsche Ice Experience:
Your chance to drive a Porsche on the snow, with previous events held in Italy, China and Canada.
Porsche Travel Experience:
Travel along some of the most breathtaking routes around the world.
Porsche Track Experience:
Improve your driving skills both on the road and on the racetrack at one of 19 locations.
“Our customers, partners at the dealerships, service suppliers and employees all stand for the dream of driving and owning a Porsche vehicle. And we all constitute the Porsche family.”
When asked what his favourite Porsche vehicle is, Jens doesn’t just settle on one. “I like them all,” he admits. “I believe you need to have at least two of them. In my experience, there is nothing like driving a 911 on a country road on a Sunday afternoon or doing a 1,000-kilometre ride in a Panamera and still feeling relaxed.”