Porsche’s U.S. Diesel Strategy: An Interview with Wolfgang Hatz

By Jonathan Spira on 18 February 2013
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Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of interviews with executives at automakers that offer diesel-powered automobiles in the United States.

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Wolfgang Hatz in Frankfurt, 2012

Porsche is the most recent entrant to the U.S. diesel marketplace. Not too long ago, the idea of a Porsche SUV was somewhat heretical to purists as was a diesel Porsche.  However, in order to be competitive in the European market, it became necessary to offer both, hence the Cayenne arrived in 2002, followed by the Cayenne Diesel in 2009.  Last year, Porsche introduced the Cayenne Diesel to the United States, becoming the fifth automaker to offer a diesel powered automobile for sale in the U.S.

We sat down with Wolfgang Hatz, a member of Porsche AG Board of Management in charge of research and development, to find out what made Porsche take the diesel plunge and to better understand the future of diesel at Porsche.  Until recently, Hatz was also is in charge of engines and transmissions development for Volkswagen Group.

Jonathan Spira:  In our earlier conversations, you sounded very enthusiastic about diesel.  What got you hooked?

Wolfgang Hatz:  Before Porsche, I was involved in engine development and also in racing.  I didn’t really give much thought to diesel engines years ago, but once I was exposed to diesel, I began to see the advantages, from reliability to fuel economy.

JS:      What is the impetus for diesel today?

WH:    It is very clear to me that diesel is the only way we will meet future emissions requirements going to 2020 and beyond.  Nothing will enable us to maintain performance and lower exhaust emissions including CO, NOx, HC, and PM as well as greenhouse gases [CO2] except for diesel.

JS:      What about emissions requirements beyond the year 2020?

WH:    Difficult – it’s always difficult [to anticipate the future].  I think we’ll see diesels, downsizing, and more plug-in technology.

JS:      How far do you think emissions requirements can go?

WH:    They [regulatory authorities] will try their utmost to continue to raise them– at least that is my impression.  There are certain physical limits but they will always ask for more and more.

JS:      What is Porsche’s long-term plan for diesel?

WH:    I see diesel as continuing to be an important powerplant for Porsche.  We have already seen that, with the Cayenne diesel in the past four to five months, 30% of buyers have selected the diesel variant.  For Porsche, this is a great number.

Click here to continue to Page 2Diesel Buyers, the 911 Diesel Question, Next Generation Diesels

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