Porsche’s Profitable Problem

2015 Porsche 911 pic-5239915476691723324

Porsche has a problem.

It’s a problem no other automaker has but all of them would want. Most automakers build cars that live comfortable lives, sell pretty well for a while, and eventually evolve into something else or end production when they are no longer popular. If they’re lucky, perhaps they’ll spawn a fan club or two.

The cars that have managed to stay relevant for decades (Ford Mustang, Toyota Camry) are nothing like their former selves.

The Porsche 911 is different. This is one of those cars that’s been in existence for most of the last 50 years and has slowly and gracefully aged. With each passing model year the 911 gets only slight changes while retaining its trademark shape. One could argue that the design no longer belongs to Porsche, but to the legions of 911 owners and fans who have become part of the car’s epic history. The 911 isn’t just a car anymore, it’s become part of our culture.

So how does Porsche go about introducing a “new” 911 when it’s bound to keep the classic shape?

That’s the problem facing Porsche.

Spy shots of the 2016 911 have been released, but there’s no real rush to go look at them, because we all know the 2016 version will look pretty much identical to the 2015 911. People would throw temper tantrums if it didn’t. So instead of altering the shape or adding a new grille or radically changing the entire front end, like other carmakers do, Porsche has to make slight visual adjustments to the existing car but is free to change anything that can’t be seen.

For the 2016 version that means the 911 will have a range of smaller engines that use turbochargers to generate more power. Minor changes will also be evident in the rear of the car, as the taillights will take a slightly more retro approach.

The 911 is the car I would buy if I suddenly came into a lot of money. It’s my dream car. I have to wonder, though, how much longer it can continue without a major design change. Is the design truly timeless enough to last another 50 years, or will Porsche need to risk abandoning 50 years of history to create a 911 for the future?

What do you think: Has the time come for a new shape for the Porsche 911?

-tgriffith

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