Walter Röhrl slams electric cars
April 21, 2018 Michael Taylor
German rally legend under pressure over TV comments
Porsche is under pressure to fire ambassador and former world rally champion
Walter Röhrl after he slammed electric cars during a German television
The 1980 and ’82 WRC champion blasted current moves towards electric cars
and electrification as a “disaster” in an interview with Germany’s
Röhrl has been a Porsche ambassador and a key member of its development team
for nearly two decades, but told the interviewer he specifically wanted no
part of developing the Mission E or any other electric Porsche because he
“I don’t need that,” he told the interviewer, before claiming electric cars
would be an environmental disaster.
The interview set off alarm bells at Porsche, which has yet to respond to
requests for comment.
Insiders insist the interview, and any repercussions from it, are still
being discussed amongst the Porsche family and the supervisory board and
they have yet to decide how to treat Röhrl, who they have long treated as
Yet the Volkswagen Group recently swapped out ex-Porsche man Matthias
Mueller as Management Board Chairman and CEO because they felt he wasn’t
pushing electrification fast or hard enough, and Porsche is said to be under
pressure from his replacement, Herbert Diess, about dealing with Röhrl.
Verbatim, the interview (in German), went like this, after Röhrl was asked
if he’d ever watched a Formula E race:
Walter Röhrl: The TV was on, but I wasn’t really watching, and I heard this
sound. It sounded like a golf cart, you know, on a golf course, but then I
realised ‘Hey, that’s Formula E’. Great, exactly what I need!
Of course I switched the TV off right away. That’s all I have to say about
Formula E. I’m just not interested.
Even if Porsche were to win, I couldn’t be bothered.
Question: Why not?
WR: Well if you ask me, the very idea of making a racing car just for racing
through cities is ludicrous.
What they should do is, they should drive on a racing circuit and make some
great sound. That would tell me that I’m at racetrack and not at some kind
of event for the blind [he meant ‘deaf’].
Q: I suppose Porsche’s Mission E is not your cup of tea either, is it?
WR: No, I don’t need that. I’m convinced that by the time that car hits the
ground I’ll have an arrangement whereby I’ll either be retired or I’ll have
nothing to do with that.
Q: So you’ll actually have a contract to that effect?
WR: Well, you know, I don’t want to get into trouble. You’ll never hear me
say that electric cars are great.
What I say is the future of electric motoring will be in the cities.
If you ask me, driving a car is about getting in and going on an 800km trip,
and electric cars can never be a solution to that.
Also, they’re a disaster in environmental terms.
Q: You mean in terms of their overall eco-balance?
WR: Exactly. And by the way, there’ll never be enough raw materials.
I’m shocked at what all those politicians are saying. They say that electric
cars are a winner, but they haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about.
But now everyone is running in that direction, ignoring the development of
fuel cells, the development of ICEs, the development of synthetic fuels,
which would be the future, if you ask me.
But like I said, those blind politicians are telling us: ‘This is the way
forward’ and everyone is going that way — it’s a disaster.
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