Professor Ferdinand Porsche initially started the company
called "Dr. ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH" in 1931,
with main offices at Königstrasse in the center of Stuttgart.
The company offered motor vehicle development work and consulting,
and did not initially 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, a "Volkswagen"
in German. This resulted in the Volkswagen Beetle, one of
the most successful car designs of all time. The first Porsche,
the Porsche 64, was developed in 1939 using many components
from the Beetle.
During World War II Volkswagen production turned to the military
version of the Volkswagen Beetle, the Kübelwagen, 52,000
produced, and Schwimmwagen, 14,000 produced. During a contract
bid for a new tank Porsche lost to Henschel & Son who
subsequently produced the Tiger I. Porsche assisted in the
designing of the Tiger tank series and the Elefant tank.
In 1945 the Volkswagen factory fell to the British. Ferdinand
lost his position as Chairman of the Board of Management of
Volkswagen and a British major, Ivan Hirst was put in charge
of the factory. On December 15 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. 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 was
begun. Many regard the 356 as the first Porsche simply because
it was the first model sold by the fledgling company. Porsche
commissioned Zuffenhausen-based company Reutter Carosseri,
which had previously collaborated with Porsche on Volkswagen
Beetle prototypes, to produce the 356's steel body. Porsche
constructed an assembly plant across the street from Reutter
Carosseri; that assembly plant is now known as Porschestrasse.
The 356 was road certified in 1948.
Not long afterwards, on January 30, 1951, Ferdinand Porsche
died from complications following a stroke.
In post-war Germany parts were generally in short supply,
so the 356 automobile used components from the Volkswagen
Beetle including its engine, gearbox, and suspension. The
356, however, had several evolutionary stages, A, B, and C,
while in production and many VW parts were replaced by Porsche-made
parts. The last 356s were powered by entirely Porsche-designed
engines. The sleek bodywork was designed by Erwin Komenda
who also had designed the body of the Beetle. Porsche's signature
designs have, from the beginning, featured air-cooled rear-engine
configurations (like the Beetle), rare for other car manufacturers,
but producing automobiles that are very well balanced.
In 1964, after some success in motor-racing, namely with the
Porsche 550 Spyder, the company launched the Porsche 911 another
air-cooled, rear-engined sports car, this time with a 6-cylinder
"boxer" engine. The team to lay out the body shell
design was led by Ferry Porsche's eldest son, Ferdinand Alexander
Porsche (F. A.). The design phase for the 911 caused internal
problems with Erwin Komenda who led the body design department
until then. F. A. Porsche complained Komenda made changes
to the design not being approved by him. Company leader Ferry
Porsche took his son's drawings to neighbouring body shell
manufacturer Reuter bringing the design to the 1963 state.
Reuter's workshop was later acquired by Porsche (so-called
Werk II). Afterward Reuter became a seat manufacturer, today
known as Keiper-Recaro.
The design group gave sequential numbers to every project
(356, 550, etc.) but the designated 901 nomenclature contravened
Peugeot's trademarks on all 'x0x' names, so it was adjusted
to 911. Racing models adhered to the "correct" numbering
sequence: 904, 906, 908. The 911 has become Porsche's most
well-known model, successful on the race-track, in rallies,
and in terms of sales. Far more than any other model, the
Porsche brand is defined by the 911. It remains in production;
however, after several generations of revision, current-model
911s share only the basic mechanical concept of a rear-engined,
six-cylinder coupe, and basic styling cues with the original
car. A cost-reduced model with the same body, but 356-derived
running gear (including its four-cylinder engine), was sold
as the 912.
In 1972 the company's legal form was changed from limited
partnership to public limited company (AG in German), because
Ferry Porsche and his sister, Louise Piëch, felt their
generation members did not team up well. This led to the foundation
of an executive board whose members came from outside the
Porsche family, and a supervisory board consisting mostly
of family members. With this change, no family members were
in operational charge of the company. F. A. Porsche founded
his own design company, Porsche Design, which is renowned
for exclusive sunglasses, watches, furniture, and many other
luxury articles. Ferdinand Piëch, who was responsible
for mechanical development of Porsche's serial and racing
cars, formed his own engineering bureau and developed a 5-cylinder-inline
diesel engine for Mercedes-Benz. A short time later he moved
to Audi and pursued his career through the entire company,
up to and including, the Volkswagen Group boards.
The first CEO of Porsche AG was Dr. Ernst Fuhrmann who had
been working in the company's engine development. Fuhrmann
was responsible for the so-called Fuhrmann-engine used in
the 356 Carrera models, as well as the 550 Spyder, having
four over-head camshafts instead of a central camshaft as
in the Volkswagen-derived serial engines. He planned to cease
the 911 during the 70s and replace it with the V8-front engined
grand sportswagon 928. As we know today the 911 outlived the
928 by far. Fuhrmann was replaced in the early 80s by Peter
W. Schutz, an American manager and self-proclaimed 911 aficionado.
He was replaced in 1988 by the former manager of German computer
company Nixdorf Computer AG, Arno Bohn, who made some costly
miscalculations that led to his dismissal soon after, along
with that of the development director, Dr. Ulrich Bez, who
was formerly responsible for BMW's Z1 model and today is CEO
of Aston Martin.
In 1990, Porsche drew up a memorandum of understanding with
Toyota to learn and benefit from Japanese production methods.
Currently Toyota is assisting Porsche with hybrid technology,
rumored to be making its way into a Hybrid Cayenne SUV, as
well as the upcoming four-door coupe, the Panamera.
Following the dismissal of Bohn, an interim CEO was appointed,
longtime Porsche employee, Heinz Branitzki, who served in
that position until Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking became CEO in 1993.
Wiedeking took over the chairmanship of the board at a time
when Porsche appeared vulnerable to a takeover by a larger
company. During his long tenure, Wiedeking has transformed
Porsche into a very efficient and profitable company.
Ferdinand Porsche's grandson, Ferdinand Piëch, was chairman
and CEO of the Volkswagen Group from 1993 to 2002. Today he
is chairman of the supervisory board. With 12.8 per cent of
the Porsche voting shares, he also remains the second largest
individual shareholder of Porsche AG after his cousin, F.
A. Porsche, (13.6 per cent).
Porsche's 2002 introduction of the Cayenne also marked the
unveiling of a new production facility in Leipzig, Saxony,
which once accounted for nearly half of Porsche's annual output.
The Cayenne Turbo S has the second most powerful production
engine in Porsche's history, with the most powerful belonging
to the Carrera GT.
In 2004, production of the 605 horsepower (451 kW) Carrera
GT commenced in Leipzig, and at EUR 450,000 ($440,000 in the
United States) it was the most expensive production model
Porsche ever built.
As of 2005, the extended Porsche and Piech families controlled
all of Porsche AG's voting shares. In early October 2005 the
company announced acquisition of an 18.53% stake in Volkswagen
AG and disclosed intentions to acquire additional VW shares
in the future. As of June 2006, the Porsche AG stake in Volkswagen
had risen to 25.1%, giving Porsche a blocking minority, whereby
Porsche can veto large corporate decisions undertaken by VW.
In mid-2006, after years of the Boxster (and later the Cayenne)
as the dominant Porsche in North America, the 911 regained
its position as Porsche's backbone in the region. The Cayenne
and 911 have cycled as the top-selling model since. In Germany
the 911 clearly outsells the Boxster/Cayman and Cayenne.
Relationship with Volkswagen
The company has always had a close relationship with Volkswagen
Group 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, in
1976 with the Porsche 912E (USA only) and the Porsche 924,
which used many Audi components and was built at Audi's Neckarsulm
factory. Most Porsche 944s also were built there although
they used far fewer VW components. In other words, Volkswagen
was a cheap Porsche, but since 1924 they have risen up to
be a leading car power. The Cayenne, introduced in 2002, shares
its entire chassis with Volkswagen Touareg, which is built
at the factory in Bratislava. Both Audi and koda are
wholly owned subsidiaries of Volkswagen. In late 2005, Porsche
took an 18.65% stake in the Volkswagen Group, further cementing
their relationship, and preventing a takeover of Volkswagen,
which was rumored at the time. Speculated suitors included
DaimlerChrysler AG, BMW, and Renault.
On 26 March 2007, Porsche took its holding of Volkswagen shares
to 30.9%, triggering a takeover bid under German law. Porsche
formally announced in a press statement that it did not intend
to take over Volkswagen (it would set its offer price at the
lowest possible legal value), but intended the move to avoid
a competitor taking a large stake or to stop hedge funds dismantling
VW, which is Porsche's most important partner. Porsche's move
comes after the European Union moved against a German law
that protected VW from takeovers. Under the so-called "Volkswagen
Law", any shareholder in VW cannot exercise more than
20% of the firm's voting rights, regardless of their level
of stock holding. The European Court of Justice struck the
law down on 23 October 2007, potentially paving the way for
With the Volkswagen stake acquisition, Porsche intends on
reforming the company's format, with Dr Ing. h. c. F. Porsche
AG becoming a subsidiary of a newly formed holding company
called Porsche Automobil Holding SE, so as to separate the
operating activities from holding activities of the company.
There was an Extraordinary General Meeting for Porsche AG
shareholders which took place on June 26, 2007 at the Porsche
Arena in Stuttgart, Germany to discuss the change to the company
On 3 March 2008 Porsche set the stage for obtaining a majority
stake in the fellow Volkswagen. Porsche sought on 4 March
2008 to allay fears it would attempt to force a merger with
The company is headquartered in Zuffenhausen, a city district
of Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg. They currently produce
911 (997), Boxster, and Cayman sports cars and Cayenne sport