Porsche has announced plans for its first all-electric car, in keeping with parent company Volkswagen's new strategy

Porsche gears up for all-electric model as parent company VW cleans up its act

Porsche has announced plans to create at least 1,400 new jobs at its Stuttgart plant to develop and build its first all-electric car, as part of parent company VW’s strategy to put zero-emission cars at the heart of its business following the diesel scandal.

The battery-powered Mission E is intended as Porsche’s rival to Tesla's Model S and the German luxury carmaker intends to have the first models rolling off the assembly line at its Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen facility in 2019.

Porsche is building an entirely new assembly line and paint shop for the Mission E at the
Zuffenhausen plant, spending approximately 1 billion euros on the zero-emission model as Volkswagen AG bets big on the future of battery-powered vehicles.

Porsche intends to use battery technology from Bosch GmbH – also based in Stuttgart – and would handle final assembly of the battery systems as part of the Mission E’s assembly line. VW chief executive Matthias Mueller previously announced that Wolfsburg-based VW is considering plans to start its own battery production as part of the automaker’s repositioning, with an engine plant in Salzgitter and a component factory in Braunschweig.

The Porsche Mission E represents the first clear indication of Volkswagen’s commitment to its zero-emission strategy, with Porsche more traditionally known for its high-performance combustion-powered sports cars. Speaking at a press briefing, Porsche labour boss Uwe Hueck told reporters, "You either take part in the digital change or you lose."

Hueck declined to specify production targets for the Mission E, but did reveal that Porsche needs to sell at least 10,000 units of a car model per year to make a profit.

Porsche said the 1,400 jobs will include 900 production staff, 300 salaried workers and 200 engineers. It also plans to boost the number of apprenticeships by half to 220, part of an industry-wide recruitment push as automakers compete with the likes of Google and Apple for digital car technology.

Accordingly, also part of Porsche’s new recruitment drive will be 350 ‘digital experts’ who will be responsible for developing mobility concepts and identifying new business opportunities – a transformation already underway at Audi, another of VW's marques, and one also planned for the Volkswagen group at large. Other carmakers, such as Ford and Vauxhall, have also identified a societal shift in attitude towards car ownership and ride sharing services and have already begun similar plans of their own.

Although Porsche routinely attracts tens of thousands of job applications per year and the company tops employer rankings, the manufacturer still struggles to attract the smartest brains also being wooed by rival carmakers, suppliers and IT firms.

"I'm not denying that the battle for talent is tough," said Andreas Haffner, human resources chief, hinting at plans to expand the digital team to California’s Silicon Valley as well as China.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen is inching forward in resolving a settlement over the diesel emissions scandal in the US. A federal judge has given the automaker preliminary approval to buy back up to 475,000 vehicles, as part of the $14.7 billion settlement proposal.

District Judge Charles Breyer, in San Francisco, set a hearing for final approval on 18 October 2016. The preliminary approval means that Volkswagen can shortly enable owners of the affected 2.0 litre diesel-powered vehicles to access a website to see how much compensation they are eligible to receive.

The settlement is the largest-ever automotive buy-back offer in the United States and, coupled with vehicle repairs and payments to governmental agencies, amounts to $10 billion.

Volkswagen said it continues to work with regulators to get fix approvals and recently told its network of dealers that a planned fix could consist of software upgrades and new catalytic converters.

As a result of the additional work arising from the settlement, VW plans to hire up to 300 people in Michigan to help process the settlement claims. The company is also actively seeking storage space in the US in which to house the vehicles the company repurchases.

E&T has followed the VW diesel emissions scandal since it first broke and all our coverage is available from our dedicated news page.

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