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Porsche sales buck the lockdown trend

Porsche sales buck the lockdown trend

I recently wrote my monthly column for BMW Car magazine. The piece followed up on a column from earlier in the year, pondering whether societal attitude shifts caused by the COVID pandemic would be reflected in consumer activity after the first lockdown. Would the virtue signalling being displayed in attitudes to clean air, pollution, globalisation and general quality of life be reflected in consumer behaviour through the remainder of 2020?

To look for signs of this change, I checked the latest new car registration data, which showed the state of play up to the end of September. Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that, despite a fall of less than 5% in year-on-year registrations during September 2020, year-to-date new car registrations are down some 33%. It was not hard to spot the biggest losers.

Diesel Sales down 56%

New diesel car registrations are down 56% over the year to date: 270,000 fewer diesel cars have been registered so far in 2020 vs 2019, with a total market share of 17%. This is partly explained by fewer diesel models post-dieselgate, much lower corporate sales (market majority players and traditional diesel buyers) and lower projected mileages of the remaining fleet buyers. Petrol car registrations are down 40%: some 485,000 units year-on-year, giving petrol a market share just shy of 60%. The big change is that ‘alternative’ – i.e. part- or full-electric – drivetrain vehicles are rising.

To the end of September 2020, 314,655 hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles had been registered. This means that alternative drivetrains now outsell diesel roughly 3 to 2 in the UK. The combined market share for part- and full-electric cars is now 25%.

Bentley, Porsche, Lexus and Toyota

Looking at new car registrations by brand shows the scale of the shift faced by some manufacturers. Of the forty vehicle manufacturers listed in the SMMT new car registration data, only four have seen a year-on-year fall in registrations of less than 20%. They are Bentley (down 17%), Lexus (down 12%), Porsche (down 13%) and Toyota (down 16%).

Volumes obviously differ between these brands. Bentley has registered just over 1,000 cars YTD, while Porsche is higher at 8,653. Lexus steps up a bit with 11,341 cars YTD, but Toyota has registered 73,067 units in the UK this year. To lose just 16% of sales this year versus last, while other manufacturers lose up to 50% year-on-year shows that Toyota has got something right.

Hybrids may hold the key

Cumulative sales data for the hybrid models in Toyota’s portfolio shows that sales of its hybrid models through 2020 are a touch up on last year: 50,608 units this year compared to 48,359 unit in 2019. Toyota’s global hybrid sales now top 15 million units, with the UK accounting for 356,000 Toyota hybrid sales in an EU total of 2.8 million cars (approx. 12.7%).

As the UK is a bigger market in European terms, with a usual share of the EU and EFTA market circa 15%, one might think that the lower penetration of hybrid technology into UK car sales may be linked to company car taxation policy favouring diesel models. However, taxable benefits made it a no-brainer for me to pick a Prius when I ordered my final company car some twelve years ago and that EV tax advantage has only increased since 2008. The UK’s obsession with premium brands and the slow adoption of hybrid alternatives offered by premium (mostly German) manufacturers encouraging a general mistrust of hybrid drivetrains may be a more likely explanation. As we see from the latest data, that perception is now changing rapidly.

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid full electric range

Porsche recently announced an increase in the electric range of the plug-in Cayenne hybrid models, as part of a number of updates for the 2021MY. Gross capacity of the high-voltage battery has increased from 14.1 kWh to 17.9 kWh, extending the electric range by up to 30 per cent. All will shake their heads when they hear that the full electric range for the Cayenne E-Hybrid is still less than 30 miles, but this is a big old bus we’re talking about and the technology is still fairly young. It is worth noting that the projected range may be best-case scenario.

The purely electric powertrain in the plug-in hybrid Cayenne & Coupe comprises a 100kW electric motor integrated into the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, generating a purely electric top speed of 83 mph. Any increased power demand from the driver or switching to the Sport or Sport Plus driving modes activates the internal combustion engine.

Cayenne E-Hybrid (RRP £69,980) has a three-litre V6 turbo with an output of 340 PS, while the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid (RRP £126,690) features a four-litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine with 550 PS, giving a total system power output of 680 PS. Combined WLTP fuel consumption for the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid models is 68 to 74 mpg – pretty good.

Porsche sales resilience this year will be due to many things: a highly aspirational brand, attractive new models such as the Cayman GTS 4.0, a bit more disposable income around for core buyers and perhaps also its usual lead times. Most cars are ordered well in advance and built to spec, so there is some protection from cars ordered ahead of the full effect of the pandemic, but the manufacturer must also get some credit for shifting its product mix as part of Strategy 2025: Porsche’s plan to have half of its sales as electrified vehicles by 2025.

Porsche Profits 2020

The recent financial results from Stuttgart show that, on revenue of €19.4 billion from January to September 2020, Porsche recorded a profit of €2 billion: a 10.4% return on sales.

While this was almost 30% down on last year, things could have been worse and they know it. “Our young, attractive product portfolio appeals to customers,” said Porsche Chairman, Oliver Blume. “I’m optimistic about the coming months. The new 911 and our electric sports car, the Taycan, impressively demonstrate our innovative strength, and their sales figures have exceeded our expectations.”

Some 11,000 Taycans were delivered during the first three quarters of 2020, but more impressively (if such things impress old-school Porsche fans), Porsche delivered more than 190,000 vehicles to the end of Q3. China remained the biggest market, taking 62,823 vehicles to the end of September: a full third of all global deliveries. We will see how things pan out across the remainder of the year.

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Ferdinand Magazine is the personal blog of John Glynn, a writer, classic car and motorcycle valuations expert and court expert witness. To explore and enjoy more of my work, and to support the Ferdinand Porsche blog, you can:

Porsche restarts production

Porsche restarts production

Porsche has announced that it will restart production in both Leipzig and Zuffenhausen from next Monday, May 4th. The manufacturer initially closed production due to coronavirus on March 21st for two weeks and said it would continue to assess the situation. The factories remained closed for six weeks due to issues with global supply chains, but that problem now appears to be sorted.

“We want to make the most of opportunities”: CEO

“It will take a great deal of effort to get the economic and social system moving again and we must all contribute to this,” said Oliver Blume, Porsche AG’s chairman. “It is important to have a positive fundamental attitude. Every crisis also offers opportunities and we want to make the most of them.” I think he is completely correct.

Porsche says it is restarting production on a site- and task-specific basis and that all the required measures have been taken to guarantee the maximum possible safety for employees. Adapted processes in production, logistics and procurement in line with social distancing measures have been agreed with the Works Council and the Health Management department. The requirements of the respective authorities will also be observed.

“The restart is an important signal – for our employees as well as for our customers. We have monitored and analysed the situation very carefully right from the start and flexibly adapted processes. Now is the right time to look forward with optimism and to resume work – subject to special precautions,” says Albrecht Reimold, Member of the Executive Board for Production and Logistics at Porsche AG.

The situation has also been improving in the UK. The dealer group Vertu announced today that it would bring 1,000 sales and service staff out of furlough to cope with high demand online. This tallies with my own experience of car sales enquiry levels and what I have heard from dealer group friends over lockdown. Vertu has 6,000 staff members furloughed, so, assuming the first wave goes well, it probably won’t be too long before more of those people return.

Car sales in coronavirus lockdown

The British Government recently clarified guidelines for selling and handing over cars. As most of garages I frequent are small scale local operations, they have all been open since the start of the lockdown. Many garage owners are one man bands who cannot afford to stop working and who also create no risk to others by going into work, as they are isolated inside a locked workshop.

The main problem with garage work right now is getting the parts. Fabrication for restoration and paint prep etc are OK to complete but, if the local Euro Car Parts does not have the parts on the shelf, it’s a case of scouring online sources for available parts as many of the parts wholesalers and distribution centres are closed. I have ordered a lot of parts online for my projects and they have all come in fairly short order, even when coming from as far away as Latvia and Lithuania.

Watching other countries taking cautious first steps out of their respective lockdowns has provoked some interesting questions, but getting fully “back to normal” (defined as “how things used to be”) could take years, according to some commentators I’ve read this week. I’m not sure there will ever be a “get back to normal” for World 2.0. A new normal is perhaps a more likely scenario and it will not be unwelcome. We can certainly hope for the best.

Porsche’s other measures to counter the spread of coronavirus remain in place at this time. An increased level of “mobile working” will continue and meetings will be held as video or telephone conferences. The company ban on business travel continues to apply.


Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:

Sustainable Porsche 911 Turbo S launched in Stuttgart

Sustainable Porsche 911 Turbo S launched in Stuttgart

Porsche has just launched the new 992 Turbo S in a livestream from Youtube. The presentation was hosted by Mark Webber, with appearances by Oliver Blume and Frank Walliser, who last year moved from the racing department to head Porsche’s 911 and 718 product lines. Comparatively little was said about the new model: much more was made of Porsche’s environmental goals.

On stage with Webber were two 992 Turbo S Coupes in Silver and Dark Metallic Blue and a Turbo S Cabriolet in white with red leather: a hand-stitched extended leather package. Walliser described the trim as catering for traditionalists, being reminiscent of the cabin in the original 1974 911 Turbo (the 930). It’s maybe a bit more along the lines of later Special Wishes models from the 1980s, including the Turbo SE.

“Passion, performance, pure emotion: that is what Porsche stands for,” said Webber. “The blueprint for all Porsche design is the 911: the world’s most recognisable sports car. Today, the flagship of that line takes centre stage.”

If you like a bit of Phil Collins, you were in luck, as “In the Air Tonight” provided the soundtrack for a montage of launch clips filmed on a dusty desert island showing an eagle, a wind tunnel and the Turbo S in motion.

“The Turbo S is elegant, efficient, powerful and, above all, it’s completely cool,” is how Porsche CEO, Oliver Blume, summed up the Turbo S essence. “The new car has 650ps, that is 70ps more than the previous generation. It sprints from 0-100 km/h in only 2.7 seconds and has a top speed of 330 km/h (205 mph).

“The first 911 Turbo was a real sensation in the 1970s and each new generation takes it one step further. We make it sharper in design, faster and more efficient. The Turbo is part of our DNA: it embodies the core brand values of Porsche: dynamics, power output and speed. And it is a real all-rounder, perfectly balancing speed and everyday usability.”

Porsche 911 Turbo: S for Sustainability

It was inevitable that at some stage the boss would bolt for the pass, to head off critics of the Turbo S’s profile as the historic embodiment of profligate excess versus Porsche’s environmental strategies with the all-electric Taycan, but it was still was a surprise to hear the CEO suggesting that the Turbo S was sustainable. Turbo S is the flagship of a highly priviled luxury product line, and sustainability is not very high on the list for most buyers. If buyers were serious about personal sustainability goals, they would hardly be spending £160,000 on a 700+ horsepower performance car.

“The Turbo S product strategy matches our brand profile and core competencies. It is sporty, flexible and sustainable. Therefore we focus on emotive combustion engines, dynamic plug-in hybrids and innovative electric sports cars.

“With electric cars and hybrids, we avoid local emissions. Their share of market will continue to grow. By 2025, half of all new Porsches will be electrified. At the same time, we are optimising our petrol engines. With each new generation, they are becoming more efficient. This also applies to sports cars, such as the Turbo S.

“Last year, we launched the Taycan: our first fully electric sports car. In doing so, we took a big step towards our sustainability goals. Sustainability today represents an important purchase reason: one that is just as important as a brand, the product and the design. That is what our customers see as value added.

“Sustainability is therefore an important pillar in our strategy. The Taycan is a successful example: driving with zero local emissions in an all-electric sports car. The production is zero-emissions at our new Taycan factory. But not only there: in the past five years, we have reduced CO2 emissions at all Porsche production facilities by an impressive 75% per car. We also set our clear sustainability guidelines for our suppliers.

“So ladies and gentlemen, Porsche is taking responsibility for society and the environment. At the same time, we are driving dreams from the racetrack to the road. This is what Porsche makes unique and also, a really cool brand.”

You have to take your hat off to anyone who can stand in front of half a million quid’s worth of wide-arched toys for the wealthy and give a speech about sustainability. That said, this was a much safer strategy than simply unveiling the trio without an accompanying corporate environmental presentation. Yes, the Turbo S is a usable everyday supercar – perhaps the perfect example of such – but how many buyers will take it over a zero-guilt, Taycan with similar oomph and bombproof residual values? Can the 911 Turbo S survive in the drive towards electric?

Porsche 911 Turbo S: survival in the age of electric

The Porsche 911 Turbo S is undeniably a bastion of excess, but excess is appealing to a shrinking number of western buyers. This is even more true as the stunning 0-60 performance, which has traditionally been the sole preserve and main attraction of turbocharged 911s, is laid waste by the instantaneous torque of electric motors. No doubt the Porsche 992 Turbo S is another great flagship, but how long more will this flagship exist?

Perhaps some will claim that we have just watched the launch of the last great Turbo, but I doubt it. The one thing that all Porsche Turbo S models have shared through the years is distinct self-effacement: an understated, restrained facade that is never brash or trying too hard, like a Lamborghini or modern-day Aston. It simply turns up with a minimum of fuss and does the job reliably, time after time. If a 911 Turbo S has one truly sustainable quality with enduring appeal, that is the one.


Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:

Porsche Taycan delivery delays

Porsche Taycan delivery delays

After weeks of unmissable promotion surrounding the new Porsche Taycan at the end of 2019, the buzz around Porsche’s first full-electric vehicle seems to have gone a bit quiet. This may be somewhat appropriate for an EV but other factors are also at play.

I recently caught up with a friend who told me about delayed delivery of a large order of Porsche Taycans for a project he is involved with and it seems the delays have been well known for months. InsideEV ran a story on delayed Porsche Taycan deliveries in November 2019, sharing a Porsche email advising customers of an eight- to ten-week delay in delivery.

Taycan is our first fully electric sports car. The car is developed from scratch and manufactured in a brand new factory. All Porsche employees have worked with full pressure to start delivering Taycan as scheduled in January. Still, as a result of the enormous complexity surrounding the production of Taycan, we must report that unfortunately the delivery dates are somewhat delayed.

We currently expect delays of around eight to ten weeks, and a new production time for your car will be communicated through your seller as soon as this is ready. We strongly apologise and guarantee that we will do everything we can to deliver your Porsche Taycan as soon as possible.”

Delayed gratification is not part of the plan for those paying upwards of £83,000 (basic Taycan 4S RRP) for their new electric sports car. I don’t know how many Taycan orders Porsche has received, but I’ve spoken to lots of people – everything from builders to opticians (and not all Porsche enthusiasts) – who have one on order.

Corporation and Company Car Tax: EV exemptions

Full order books are not much of a surprise, given that UK corporation tax allows 100% of the list price of a full EV to be written off in the first twelve months and depreciation (if there is any such thing on a Taycan) will certainly be lower than the tax that would otherwise be payable on that money. Tax changes which come into effect in 2020/2021 will help to further reduce company car tax bills as zero emission, 100% electric cars will pay no company car tax in 2020/21, 1% in 2021/22 and 2% in 2022/23.

As the UK tax year runs until early April, corporate buyers may be content to wait for the new plate and the fine weather for their Taycans, but shiny happy people in the permasun regions might feel a bit different.

Taycan is Top Gear Car of the Year

Amongst the plaudits for Porsche Taycan towards the end of last year was the Car of the Year crown from BBC Top Gear. “It takes all of about three minutes driving a Taycan to realise that Porsche has permanently altered what people who love conventional cars will think of electric cars,” said the Top Gear editors.

“It hints at what will be possible with an electric platform in the future. Lower emissions, yes, but also a world of speed and capability that might make those who have hollered for the death of the internal combustion engine wonder if they’ve actually opened a Pandora’s box of raw speed.”

EVs are certainly changing the game on a daily basis and the torque from a standstill is jaw-dropping, but Car of the Year on such a low volume machine for the privileged few (builders and opticians included) is a bit of a head scratcher. Then again, Top Gear has probably never been regarded as a consumer motoring thought leader. What Car? magazine gave its overall Car of the Year award to the brand new Ford Puma, which makes a bit more sense.


Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog or engage with me in other ways, you can:

New EV Rapid Charging Technology: 300 miles in ten minutes

New EV Rapid Charging Technology: 300 miles in ten minutes

I recently read an interesting article in a Fast Company newsletter, sharing how engineers at Penn State University have come up with a new technique to dramatically increase the charge rate of electric vehicle batteries.

“We demonstrated that we can sufficiently charge an electrical vehicle in ten minutes to give a range of two to three hundred miles,” said Chao-Yang Wang, project lead and director of the Electrochemical Engine Centre at Penn State University. “We can do this maintaining 2,500 charging cycles, or the equivalent of half a million miles of travel.”

The new technique centres on heat. Up to now, charging rates have been limited due to degradation in lithium-ion batteries when charged at normal ambient temperatures. The research showed that deposits of lithium were forming on the battery anodes when charged at less than fifty degrees Celsius.

The researchers discouraged the plating by increasing the heat to sixty degrees C. At this temperature, batteries could be charged up to 2,500 times with no evidence of lithium plating. The same process tried at twenty degrees C showed huge degradation, with batteries showing significant deterioration due to plating after just sixty recharges.

Battery Charge Management

The symptoms seem close to the plating one finds on normal lead acid car batteries after standard charging on trickle chargers etc. Batteries left uncharged or on a low trickle charge for months can build up deposits of lead sulphate on the plates that permanently degrade the performance, with a marked increase in degradation in lower temperatures.

Owners can mitigate the effects of this plating by using battery chargers with charge management programmes, that vary the amount of voltage being fed into the battery. I have CTEK, Optimate and Facom smart chargers but there are plenty of others to choose from.

I got into using charge management devices when the kids were younger and I had an American motorhome/RV fitted with Elecsol carbon fibre leisure batteries. NLA nowadays, these batteries were efficient and lasted longer when maintained with a CTEK charger while the camper was stored between trips. Ambient temperatures had a noticeable impact on performance.

The current charge times for a 300-mile range on the typical EV are said to be about 50 minutes, meaning that Penn Sate has cut the charge rate by some 80%. The mind boggles as to what other developments across this technology may eventually be capable of bringing to EVs and the rest of our tech.

Stone Chips and Life Stories

Stone Chips and Life Stories

I’ve always been a bookworm. From seven or eight years old, I pored over every issue of the legendary ‘Motor’ magazine, relishing the data and reviews. As a car-obsessed kid on the west coast of Ireland, there was no one to share any of this geekery with, other than a handful of less obsessed schoolmates. But that didn’t stop me from soaking it up.

Unforgettable ‘Car’ reviews had brilliant photos with text from a lyrical genius. Whether it was Aussies Cropley or Nichols, Austria’s Kacher or the brilliant George Bishop, their work seemed effortless – the words just flowed out. When you do the right homework, that’s how it goes.

Stuck in a place where these dream-sequence pieces could never come true, I absorbed them like sunlight. Exacting attention to detail went into these features and that shone from the pages: the least I as a reader could do was give them my undivided attention.

If the laser-beam focus that we shot into the pages of the magazines of our youth was absorbed as raw spirit energy, then a solution to climate change is stacked all around me. I have thousands of old magazines on shelves and in boxes: decades of Autocar, piles of Car and Performance Car, the complete works of Street Machine, Custom Car and hundreds of Bike magazines. The energy contained within these pages must be pretty incredible.

Much as I love what these magazines encapsulate, most will be recycled at some stage. While I enjoy leafing through tokens of my well-spent youth, they are not a must-have reminder of my boyhood fascination with car reviews. Somewhere along the journey from young reader to driver, I realised that comparing one new car to another no longer mattered to me. The story mattered – it always does – but the actual product was less of a draw.

Nothing much interesting happens with cars until you drive them out of the showroom and into the world. It’s a bit like having kids: the delivery is special, then a few days of bright fascination, then the glow of strapping them into their child seat and heading home from the hospital. But then, the newness softens. Months go by where not very much happens. Of course you are bonding, but really it’s just clocking up the miles until they get interesting.

Then they start moving, and failing. Every fail is a thrill: fail, fail and succeed. Progress is swift – you learn fast when you fail. Their failure exposes vulnerability and brings out our empathy. As the days pass with small fails and small wins, thoughts of what life was like before this empathic connection starts to fade. It begins to feel like they have always been around. The energy pored into them begins to shine back. They tell part of your story and you contribute to theirs. Your part is a privilege.

As such a huge percentage of my emotional life has been wrapped in the romance of cars, I find distinct parallels in connection. Car stories worth telling have cracks in the windscreen. Memorable protagonists come with a back story. A life well-lived is defined by the stone chips and the stories I love come with this as the subtext.

Of course, second-hand stuff is not for everyone. Some people love the no-story of newness and, having owned and sold many new cars in my life, I get that. But newness is not my primary trigger. I like things that are scratched: the wear on a camera or the cracks in the leather. In the same way that I liked it when my kids would fall over, I take some pleasure when they ring me in tears: they are living a life and writing their story through authentic experience. When the question is new versus used or shiny versus scratched, there is simply no contest for me.

New Porsche Macan is a thriller

Used car admirers would be pretty stuck without new car obsessives, so hats off to them. New Macan is out and about and, as someone who has run 4×4 SUVs for decades and can see no impending end to that, of course I like it, but of course I would only buy used. The used Macan I would buy is still thirty grand and unlikely to fall into my price range anytime soon, so I scratch the vague itch vicariously, by chatting with friends who own them and watching Stuttgart’s Youtube content.

The latest Macan video wants to talk about thrilling. Printer paper and water coolers: they are not thrilling. A Macan at dawn on a twisty road: that’s what thrilling is like. But that viewpoint depends on the watcher.

Printer paper carrying the first draft of a book is thrilling. Rising from a long desk stint for a cool cup of water: also good. An empty Macan on a twisty road first thing in the morning feels like a bit of a waste. My early morning drives are all about taking the dog to the woods or heading out to collect yet more reclaimed architectural salvage. An early morning drive in a Macan with the dog in the boot and an empty trailer on the back? Now that would be cool.

Ferdinand blogs my freelance adventure with Porsche at the centre. To support the blog and engage with me in other ways, you can: