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The per­ceived wis­dom goes that elec­tric cars pro­vide a blank can­vas when it comes to car de­sign, given that there’s no engine to de­fine the whole pack­ag­ing set-up. Not so, ac­cord­ing to Porsche de­sign boss Michael Mauer.

“It is the pack­ag­ing that de­fines the ar­chi­tec­ture of a car,” he said. “Pas­sen­gers, lug­gage space, le­gal re­quire­ments – this de­fines the ar­chi­tec­ture of the car by as much as 70%,” leav­ing 30% for the de­signer’s pen.

When en­ter­ing new sec­tors with the Panam­era, Cayenne and Ma­can, Porsche has unashamedly looked to the 911 when it comes to de­sign in­spi­ra­tion. The Mis­sion E con­cept showed an­other way, par­tic­u­larly at the front end, although from the side pro­file and rear, it looked ev­ery bit the futuristic four-seat, four-door 911.

How far to push the styling, then, with an elec­tric car? “With pure styling, you have to give an an­swer to how far you go with the de­sign lan­guage to vi­su­alise the tech­nol­ogy,” said Mauer. “It would be nice to have a crys­tal ball to see what cus­tomers ex­pect… When de­sign­ing a Cayenne or a 911, you need peo­ple to see it’s a new model but still a Porsche. With an EV, you should see it’s new tech­nol­ogy but you do steps with the change of de­sign. Cus­tomers should have the op­por­tu­nity to di­gest the new el­e­ments.

“Go too far and you lose them. They’re used to a de­sign for 20, 30 years. You see on the mar­ket, one com­pany went very far [BMW], oth­ers less so. Cus­tomers love the prod­uct, but it’s all about the brand. Peo­ple will buy an EV Porsche as it’s beau­ti­ful but also be­cause it has a Porsche badge. It needs to be recog­nis­able as a Porsche but have elec­tric el­e­ments. It’s a bal­ance.”

The 911 is the car on which Porsche de­sign hangs its hat

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