Dr.-Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, usually shortened to Porsche AG (German pronunciation: [ˈpɔɐ̯ʃə] (listen); see below), is a German automobile manufacturer specializing in high-performance sports cars, SUVs and sedans. The headquarters of Porsche AG is in Stuttgart, and the company is owned by Volkswagen AG, a controlling stake of which is owned by Porsche Automobil Holding SE. Porsche’s current lineup includes the 718 Boxster/Cayman, 911, Panamera, Macan, Cayenne and Taycan.
Ferdinand Porsche founded the company called “Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH“ with Adolf Rosenberger and Anton Piëch in 1931. The main offices was at Kronenstraße 24 in the centre of Stuttgart. Initially, the company offered motor vehicle development work and consulting, but did not build any cars under its own name. One of the first assignments the new company received was from the German government to design a car for the people; that is, a Volkswagen. This resulted in the Volkswagen Beetle, one of the most successful car designs of all time. The Porsche 64 was developed in 1939 using many components from the Beetle.Porsche’s tank prototype, the “Porsche Tiger”, that lost to Henschel & Son‘s Tiger I.Panzerjäger Elefant – after the loss of the contract to the Tiger I, Porsche recycled his design into a tank destroyer.
During World War II, Volkswagen production turned to the military version of the Volkswagen Beetle, the Kübelwagen, 52,000 produced, and Schwimmwagen, 15,584 produced. Porsche produced several designs for heavy tanks during the war, losing out to Henschel & Son in both contracts that ultimately led to the Tiger I and the Tiger II. However, not all this work was wasted, as the chassis Porsche designed for the Tiger I was used as the base for the Elefant tank destroyer. Porsche also developed the Maus super-heavy tank in the closing stages of the war, producing two prototypes. Ferdinand Porsche’s biographer, Fabian Müller, wrote that Porsche had thousands of people forcibly brought to work at their factories during the war. The workers wore the letter “P” on their clothing at all times. It stood not for “Porsche,” but for “Poland.”
At the end of World War II in 1945, the Volkswagen factory at KdF-Stadt fell to the British. Ferdinand lost his position as chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen, and Ivan Hirst, a British Army major, was put in charge of the factory. (In Wolfsburg, the Volkswagen company magazine dubbed him “The British Major who saved Volkswagen”.) On 15 December of that year, Ferdinand was arrested for war crimes, but not tried. During his 20-month imprisonment, Ferdinand Porsche’s son, Ferry Porsche, decided to build his own car, because he could not find an existing one that he wanted to buy. He also had to steer the company through some of its most difficult days until his father’s release in August 1947. The first models of what was to become the 356 were built in a small sawmill in Gmünd, Austria. The prototype car was shown to German auto dealers, and when pre-orders reached a set threshold, production (with aluminum body) was begun by Porsche Konstruktionen GesmbH, founded by Ferry and Louise. Many regard the 356 as the first Porsche simply because it was the first model sold by the fledgling company. After production of the 356 was taken over by the father’s Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH in Stuttgart in 1950, Porsche commissioned a Zuffenhausen-based company, Reutter Karosserie, which had previously collaborated with the firm on Volkswagen Beetle prototypes, to produce the 356’s steel body. In 1952, Porsche constructed an assembly plant (Werk 2) across the street from Reutter Karosserie; the main road in front of Werk 1, the oldest Porsche building, is now known as Porschestrasse. The 356 was road certified in 1948.
Porsche’s company logo stems from the coat of arms of the Free People’s State of Württemberg of Weimar Germany of 1918–1933, which had Stuttgart as its capital. (The Bundesland of Württemberg-Hohenzollern used the same arms from 1945 to 1952, while Stuttgart during these years operated as the capital of adjacent Württemberg-Baden.) The arms of Stuttgart appear in the middle of the logo as an inescutcheon, since the company had its headquarters in Stuttgart. The heraldic symbols, combined with the texts “Porsche” and “Stuttgart”, do not form a conventional coat of arms, since heraldic achievements never spell out the name of the armiger nor the armiger’s home-town in the shield.
Württemberg-Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern both became part of the present land of Baden-Württemberg in 1952 after the political consolidation of West Germany in 1949, but the old design of the arms of Württemberg lives on in the Porsche logo. On 30 January 1951, not long before the formation of Baden-Württemberg, Ferdinand Porsche died from complications following a stroke.
The company has always had a close relationship with, initially, the Volkswagen (VW) marque, and later, the Volkswagen Group (which also owns Audi AG), because the first Volkswagen Beetle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche.
The two companies collaborated in 1969 to make the VW-Porsche 914 and 914-6, whereby the 914-6 had a Porsche engine, and the 914 had a Volkswagen engine. Further collaboration in 1976 resulted in the Porsche 912E (US only) and the Porsche 924, which used many Audi components, and was built at Audi’s Neckarsulm factory, which had been NSU‘s. Porsche 944s were also built there, although they used far fewer Volkswagen components. The Cayenne, introduced in 2002, shares its chassis with the Volkswagen Touareg and the Audi Q7, which is built at the Volkswagen Group factory in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Porsche SE was created in June 2007 by renaming the old Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, and became a holding company for the families’ stake in Porsche Zwischenholding GmbH (50.1%) (which in turn held 100% of the old Porsche AG) and Volkswagen AG (50.7%). At the same time, the new Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG (Porsche AG) was created for the car manufacturing business.
In August 2009, Porsche SE and Volkswagen AG reached an agreement that the car manufacturing operations of the two companies would merge in 2011, to form an “Integrated Automotive Group”. The management of Volkswagen AG agreed to 50.76% of Volkswagen AG being owned by Porsche SE in return for Volkswagen AG management taking Porsche SE management positions (in order for Volkswagen management to remain in control), and for Volkswagen AG acquiring ownership of Porsche AG.
As of the end of 2015, the 52.2% control interest in VW AG is the predominant investment by Porsche SE, and Volkswagen AG in turn controls brands and companies such as Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche AG, Ducati, VW Commercial Vehicles, Scania, MAN, as well as Volkswagen Financial Services.
Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG (which stands for Doktor Ingenieur honoris causa Ferdinand Porsche Aktiengesellschaft), as a 100% subsidiary of VW AG, is responsible for the actual production and manufacture of the Porsche automobile line. The company currently produces Porsche 911, Boxster and Cayman sports cars, the Cayenne and Macan sport utility vehicles and the four-door Panamera.
Porsche AG has a 29% share in German engineering and design consultancy Bertrandt AG and 81.8% of Mieschke Hofmann und Partner. In 2018, Porsche acquired a 10% minority shareholding stake of the Croatian electric sportscar manufacturer Rimac Automobili to form a development partnership.
Wholly owned subsidiaries of Porsche AG include Porsche Consulting GmbH.
Production and sales
The headquarters and main factory are located in Zuffenhausen, a district in Stuttgart, but the Cayenne and Panamera models are manufactured in Leipzig, Germany, and parts for the SUV are also assembled in the Volkswagen Touaregfactory in Bratislava, Slovakia. Boxster and Cayman production was outsourced to Valmet Automotive in Finland from 1997 to 2011, and in 2012 production moved to Germany. Since 2011, the area of the Zuffenhausen plant has more than doubled, from 284,000 to 614,000 square metres, as a result of purchasing the former Layher, Deltona and Daimler sites, among others.
In 2015, Porsche reported selling a total of 218,983 cars, 28,953 (13.22%) as domestic German sales, and 190,030 (86.78%) internationally.
The company has been highly successful in recent times, and indeed claims to have the highest profit per unit sold of any car company in the world. Table of profits (in millions of euros) and number of cars produced. Figures from 2008/9 onwards were not reported as part of Porsche SE.
On 11 May 2017, Porsche built the one-millionth 911. An Irish green Carrera S was built for the celebration, and it will be taken on a global tour before becoming a permanent exhibit at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.