Porsche - Editorial


On June 25, 1938, Karl Rabe made the following entry in his journal: “Dr. P. is in Berlin. I drive to the old office in Kronenstraße at 10 a.m. and then to the new building in Zuffenhausen.” Two sentences. Dispassionate. Almost in passing. What the head engineer and close confidant of “Dr. P.” recorded for posterity on that Saturday doesn’t do justice to such a weighty juncture in history or the emotion of the moment. Rabe then moved on to the day’s agenda: “At 12 I drive to Berger & Mössner in Feuerbach.” A few days earlier they had toasted the move from the center of Stuttgart to the new plant at the northern edge of the city. They enjoyed a “small round of schnapps,” which nevertheless had “considerable effects,” Rabe noted. He couldn’t have imagined most of what would follow—it was the beginning of everything. The cornerstone. The home of the sports car. Zuffenhausen.

Legends and traditions. They’re born of a yearning for origins. They idealize people and events, and serve to promote identity and community. One of these legends in the automotive world is the Porsche 911. Another is found by walking up six steps past three barred windows into an unadorned, skewed, three-story brick building with a special flair that’s not terribly impressive and anything but modern—yet it’s the heart of eighty years of history and seventy years of Porsche sports cars. Institutions exert an influence on individuals. But if individuals also influence institutions, then Plant 1 at Porsche’s headquarters in Zuffenhausen is a vibrant, eternally young, identity-forming testimony to the inextricability of origins and the future, standing as it does against the backdrop of a powerful, silver-gray, futuristic Porsche world embarking upon electromobility. And it’ll still be standing when hardly any of the edifices around us today remain.

Renewal without loss, letting go only to hang on: Zuffenhausen will remain what it is for Porsche. And yet Porsche in Zuffenhausen will never again be as it once was—which this issue documents in striking form. A look back and a look forward. The Taycan, the first Porsche with a purely electric drive, gives Zuffenhausen a new face and a new core. “Does that mean we stop being ourselves, being Porsche?” asks Dr. Wolfgang Porsche.

Porsche will have invested €6 billion in electromobility by 2022, including over €700 million alone in production facilities at its headquarters. That’s the answer to the question of what has made us both what we are today and will be in the future. The essence of Porsche, embraced in a building in which Karl Rabe wrote on June 27, 1938: “Dr. P. is here. Today is the first day at the new office in Zuffenhausen, much is still under construction but otherwise it’s very beautiful.”

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