Is this what a Porsche cockpit will look like in the future?
Settle into the automotive interior of tomorrow, today
To shape the future, Porsche’s designers take frequent inspiration from the past. But they must also always strive to innovate. And one of the ways in which they do so is by studying people, and Porsche drivers in particular.
“In the past, we used to type our destination into the navigation system before a journey,” says Ivo van Hulten, director of user experience design (UX) at Porsche. “Today, we prepare the route on our smartphones while sitting on the sofa, and then send it to the car.”
At the Weissach Development Centre, UX stands for everything you can experience in and with a Porsche. It’s about a desire for convenience, flexibility, and timeliness, all condensed into the perfect brand experience.
To best achieve this goal, the designers at Style Porsche in Weissach journey far into the future of mobility – conjuring visions for the day after tomorrow. They ask themselves how far they can expand Porsche’s design language and to which products it could be applied. Together with chief designer Michael Mauer and head of interior design Markus Auerbach, UX expert van Hulten experiments every day with what will meet customer needs in a few years’ time.
The designers keep their minds fresh with ‘first principle thinking’, moving away from familiar analogies and breaking hypotheses down into their smallest components. They focus not on familiar forms but on functions that might be of interest in the future. They ask themselves what a Porsche could be—and what it could not be. This process provides answers to questions that no one has asked before.
This is how the Renndienst came into being, a six-seater minivan with family-friendly interior concept that references the VW service vans that once supported the factory racing team. On the outside, it’s futuristic and edgeless—on the inside, it’s an ingenious modular travel cabin.
“We thought about how we could still give a distinctly Porsche flair to a passenger compartment that is so far removed from the classic sports-car interior,” Mauer explains. “And how autonomous driving could be designed. We don’t assume that our customers want to give up using a steering wheel. When I want to drive, I have more cockpit feeling than in any other car. And when I don’t, the driver’s seat can be rotated 180 degrees—with one swivel, it turns to face the other passengers. We worked on materializing these basic ideas for about a year,” the chief designer explains.
When it comes to interior design, the UX is dedicated to a digital lifestyle and the relationship between driver, passengers and vehicle. “In the Taycan, we have shown how much we think ahead,” says van Hulten. “For the Renndienst we were looking at a possible next overall innovation. For this, we thought and worked from the inside out.”
An example of this is the concept’s side windows, which are designed asymmetrically. “One side is closed; passengers can retreat there,” explains Auerbach. “The other side enjoys a large window bank for an unobstructed view outside. When we close the doors, the interior feels like a protective capsule.”
Passengers in the first row sit offset to the right and left in ergonomically shaped bucket seats, from where they can enjoy an unobstructed view of the road ahead and of their own dashboard screens. The rear seat headrests are installed in a floating position, which allows a clear view through the rear window.
The Renndienst’s central driving seat position underscores the self-determination that Porsche sports cars represent. Five round instruments maintain a connection with Porsche’s past, while haptic buttons and foldable screens are resolutely future-focussed.
Which is what Ivo van Hulten must always be as he predicts the Porsche clientele to come: “In the past, the hunger for something new was satisfied with the purchase of the product. Today, many young people are no longer just fascinated by the aesthetics of a product, but by the opportunities it offers them.” The look of the interior therefore depends on much more than just shapes and materials. “The questions are: is the modular interior enough to adapt to changing circumstances even a few years after purchase? Will I be able to run updates remotely and around the clock?”
But the demands on the design team are not purely virtual, as Auerbach explains: “A digital journey can open a gateway to a universe for us, but it can never replace the physical experience. A car is a space that moves whether I’m driving it myself or not. The seats in this van have been designed for movement; they hold and support the body. The rear bench seat allows a different sitting angle due to its curved sides, offering alternative seating positions for talking, working, and relaxing. Cars with an unsatisfactory interior do not survive for long, because no emotional connection can be built with them.”