8 ottobre 2022
by Giandomenico Serrao

The Porsche effect


Porsche is a journey through time; it is the imaginary, the collective dream, a bridge between generations. The Stuttgart car manufacturer, controlled by Volkswagen in turn held by a holding company that includes the Porsche-Piech family as controlling shareholders, debuts on the stock exchange. The approximately EUR 10 billion, proceeds from the placement, will be used to finance the development of the electric Porsche.

Almost a century has passed (91 years to be precise) since the Bohemian engineer Ferdinand Porsche founded the design and engineering studio Porsche GmbH in Stuttgart. It was April 25, 1931 when the 56-year-old entrepreneur decided to set up his own business, creating a brand that would change and mark the history of the automobile. Porsche’s IPO is the biggest in Europe since 2011. The volume of issues makes it the second biggest listing in Germany after Deutsche Telekom in 1996 and the largest in Europe in 11 years together with that of the Swiss commodity giant Glencore.

The history of Ferdinand Porsche is that of the 'pioneers' of 20th century industry, similar to that of Giovanni Agnelli or Henry Ford in the United States. Having grown up in the enlightened atmosphere of the belle époque, fervent believers in progress and human ingenuity, the story of Ferdinand Porsche (like that of the Agnelli) is interwoven with the events of three centuries: from the optimism of the late 19th century to the tragedies of the world wars in the first half of the twentieth century and as far as the present day.

The history of Ferdinand Porsche, like that of the Agnelli, is interwoven with the events of three centuries

In just a few years, the Bohemian entrepreneur went from producing and designing horse-drawn carriages for the monarchies of the time to the automobile, the revolutionary transport that changed human history. After very important roles at Austro-Daimler, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Steyr-Werke AG, in April 1931, the engineer fulfilled his dream by founding his own design studio, the start of what would become one of the biggest automotive brands.

Again, it was Porsche–at the request of Adolf Hitler, who wanted a “people's car” costing a maximum of 1,000 marks in order to be affordable to the working class–that in 1934 began working on what would become Volkswagen, the global giant of car manufacture. Ironically, today Volkswagen controls Porsche and has decided to go public. Thus, in 1938, along came the Beetle, another car that marked the history of the automotive industry and fed the dreams of millions of motorists.

During the war years, Porsche–on input from the Nazi regime–set aside the production of cars to concentrate on the design of war vehicles such as the tanks VK 3001 or the Panzer VI Tiger. Even in the military field, the engineer’s talent was evident, so much so that the vehicles he built were also very successful in military campaigns. He created a military version of the Beetle, the Volkswagen Kübelwagen, used on all fronts of the world war by the Germans, and an amphibious version of the same, the Volkswagen Schwimmwagen.

In 1944, the Porsche offices were moved to Carinthia to escape the Allied bombing of Stuttgart. At the end of the war, the founder of the car manufacturer served 20 months in prison on charges of collaborating with the Nazi regime. Once out of prison, Porsche started again from scratch by taking over a sawmill in Carinthia, which he transformed into a factory to fulfill his dream: to build cars. The first productions were small and made by hand from whatever he could find; the model that came out of that Gmund sawmill was called the Porsche 356. Thus, after the war, a piece of the history of industry and world technology began again. Production continued even after the death of Ferdinand senior, under Ferdinand junior, known as Ferry, creating models that are still sought after today: the 356, the Porsche 912, the 550 Spyder, the car driven by James Dean when he died in 1955. Another model that is now a legend in the automotive world is the 911, designed in 1963 by Butzi, son of Ferry Porsche.

Like all self-respecting legends, Porsche became a movie star, featuring in many films and driven by icons of the big screen including Steve McQueen in 24 Hours of Le Mans. Porsche is also in Bad Boys in 1995, American Psycho in 2000 or Disney's animated film Cars, where one of the stars is Sally, a metallic blue, 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera. This car, which ended up as Lightning McQueen’s girlfriend, became so popular that it has been included in the exhibition at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, where it shares the stage with the car manufacturer's other leading models.

Then there is the 007 saga in which, among the various sports cars used by James Bond, there are two different Porsches: the 911 Turbo (993), which can be seen in the opening scene of Die Another Day in 2002. Then there is the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, also featured in the video game James Bond: Everything or Nothing from 2003.

The valuation of the brand in a few years could reach over EUR 100 billion

The road taken today will be traveled, as always, at full speed by the German automaker dodging opponents and obstacles like Steve McQueen in the movie 'The 24 Hours of Le Mans.'  Landing on the stock market at such a difficult time shows courage and confidence in the future. Today the company is worth 75 billion euros, but by 2026, bets chief financial officer Lutz Meschke, the brand's valuation could rise to "over 100 billion." Porsche's run continues.

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